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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
10 December 2015



10 DECEMBER 2015
GA/11738

Adopting Six Resolutions, General Assembly Calls for Stronger Coordination of International Humanitarian Aid, Unity against Violent Extremism
Seventieth Session, 71st & 72nd Meetings (AM & PM)

Unanimously adopting five resolutions on humanitarian issues, and one resolution on countering violent extremism, the General Assembly today heard from more than two dozen speakers as the 193-member body debated the past, present and future of international assistance to persons in need.

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By the last text adopted, titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” the Assembly urged Member States, international financial institutions and regional organizations to provide economic and social aid to the Palestinians.

The deterioration of the situation on all fronts – humanitarian and socioeconomic as well as political and security – had compounded hardships endured by the Palestinian population living under Israel’s occupation, giving rise to even greater needs and making international humanitarian aid all the more imperative, said a representative of the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine in the debate preceding the adoption of the resolution.

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Background

The General Assembly met today to elect a member of the Committee for Programme and Coordination and to hold a joint debate and take action on draft resolutions relating to strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations:  including on special economic assistance; strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations; assistance to the Palestinian people; and assistance to the survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, particularly orphans, widows and victims of sexual violence.  It also met to take action on a draft resolution on a culture of peace.

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On assistance to the Palestinian people, the Assembly considered a report by the same name (document A/70/76) and an eponymous draft resolution (document A/70/L.18).
Lastly, regarding a culture of peace, was a draft resolution titled “a world against violence and violent extremism” (document A/70/L.21).

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SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced two texts on the matter.  Presenting the text titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/70/L.25), she said that, in 2014, 121 aid workers were killed, 88 injured and 120 kidnapped in the exercise of humanitarian work, and those were unacceptably high figures.  Introducing the draft titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/70/L.18), she said it embodied the wish of the European Union and of the international community to help the Palestinian people.

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ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that facing increasing humanitarian challenges required coordinating resources and reinforcing the international system to make it more efficient.  Responding to such challenges was part of the Group’s work and was based on Arab values and principles of human rights.  The Group coordinated humanitarian efforts in the region by getting involved at all levels.  As a result of increasing humanitarian crises in the region, it was developing a system to respond better to them, with the Secretariat establishing a special mechanism.  All efforts had to be based on principles of international law, international humanitarian law, respect for human rights, and especially principles of territorial integrity.  The Group would participate in the World Humanitarian Summit next May in Istanbul, and sought results from the event because it was very important to the Group’s situation and that of the international community.
She went on to say that the Palestinian people faced a difficult economic and humanitarian situation because the practices of Israel, the occupying Power, violated the human and civil rights of Arabs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also stifled the Palestinian economy while continuing the unjust and inhumane blockade against Palestinians.  It was incumbent upon the international community to address those challenges by putting an end to the occupation, and help the Palestinian people establish an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Arab countries provided humanitarian assistance to Palestinian people and had their increased budget contributions to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to the huge budget deficit it faced and to meet the Agency’s appeals.  The Arab States had also fulfilled their commitments in large part at the Cairo conference.  The Group was ready to work with other United Nations organs, especially the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in responding to disasters, crises and conflicts.

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FEDA ABDELHADY-NASSER, a representative of the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that it had been a year that had once again witnessed turmoil gravely affecting the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  The deterioration of the situation on all fronts – humanitarian and socioeconomic as well as political and security – had compounded hardships endured by the Palestinian population living under Israel’s occupation, giving rise to even greater needs and making international humanitarian aid all the more imperative.  Current assistance was helping to mitigate the serious challenges faced by the Palestinian Government in the context of nearly half a century of foreign occupation, and was alleviating suffering, giving opportunity and fostering hope.  “Such assistance is providing relief and dignity to our people as they await the emergence of the political horizon that will ensure the realization of their inalienable rights and legitimate aspirations”, she said, adding that international help must continue until the realization of a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict.

Nevertheless, humanitarian aid could not be a substitute for a just resolution of the conflict in line with international law, she went on.  Political action was needed to salvage the two-State solution.  Palestine continued to appeal to the international community, including the Security Council, to mobilize the political will to redress the injustice, bring an end to the Israeli occupation and peacefully resolve the tragic conflict as a matter of priority.  Describing the grim reality of the Palestinian people on the ground – including the eight-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, the unprecedented levels of devastation caused by the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 and the daily military raids and escalating violence – she went on to say that unemployment remained extremely high in the Occupied Territories and that the World Bank had recently assessed the economy of Gaza to be “on the verge of collapse”.  In addition, following the 2014 military aggression by Israel, more than 100,000 Palestinian civilians remained displaced.  As the international community embarked on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognizing the special challenges faced by people living under foreign occupation and colonial domination, “we insist that the Palestinian people cannot be left behind in this crucial global undertaking”, she concluded.

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SABAH AL-SABAH (Kuwait) said that his country supported the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Arab Group.  Kuwait favourably viewed the draft resolutions for the Assembly’s consideration today.  The specialized agencies and funds of the United Nations were important, as was participation at the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in May 2016, which would be a historical opportunity for States to commit themselves to a plan.  Kuwait was concerned at recent developments in the security of United Nations personnel, many of whom were serving in dangerous locations.  Turning to the Middle East, he said that lasting peace had to be achieved, so the Palestinian people could enjoy their legitimate rights and be recognized with an independent State on their own territory with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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DAVID ROET (Israel) said that, according to estimates published by the United Nations this week as many as 87.6 million people in 37 countries were in urgent need of humanitarian need.  In the Middle East, the lack of access to besieged areas and the deterioration of civilian infrastructure had led to a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not seen since the Second World War.  The costs of taking action were high, but the price of not doing so was even higher.  Israel was committed to extending humanitarian aid whenever and wherever it was needed.  It had deployed search and rescue teams following the devastating earthquake in Nepal earlier this year.  When the Ebola outbreak struck West Africa, it had joined the international effort to contain the disease, sending basic medical equipment, drugs, protective gear and doctors.  Israel was also the largest donor per capita to the Organization’s Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund, donating a total of more than $8 million.  Those and other efforts in humanitarian outreach represented the spirit of Israel’s people and the nation’s character.

Such efforts by Israel were not limited to endeavours overseas, he went on to say.  It made continuous efforts to improve the well-being of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  It had been working closely with the United Nations to facilitate the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, upgrading the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings.  Despite those efforts, the full reconstruction of Gaza would only be achieved when the Palestinian Authority assumed a more substantive role in Gaza.  That had been recognized in the “Assistance to Palestinian People” draft considered by the Assembly today.  Many in the chamber had blamed Israel and questioned its actions, but no answer had been provided as to why the Palestinian Authority continued to evade its responsibilities regarding governance in Gaza.  Despite daily acts of terror against its citizens and incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Israel would continue humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, encouraging strong institutions and a vibrant economy.

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By the last text adopted, titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/70/L.18), the Assembly urged Member States, international financial institutions and regional organizations to provide economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people.  It also stressed the importance of following up on the results of the 2014 Cairo International Conference on Palestine:  “Reconstructing Gaza” to promote the enclave’s economic recovery and reconstruction.
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Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran said the representative of the Israeli regime had as usual levelled accusations against his country that were baseless and nothing other than a bunch of lies.  The anger of that regime against the resolution was understandable because a regime that had created an apartheid system in the territories it controlled could not tolerate human rights, and thus considered the resolution to be against itself.  The regime placed people under occupation, with harsh policies and practices condemned time and again by the international community, shamelessly flouting principles of international law and the civilized world.  It was safe to say that the entire humankind was against the policy of putting people under occupation and siege and denying them basic rights and necessities as the Israeli regime was doing in Gaza.  The suffering and humiliation the Palestinian people had undergone and the atrocities committed against them were a major source of anger and bitterness that extremists had tried to exploit to advance their own evil agenda.  Iran was against the occupation inter alia because it was one of the main sources of violent extremism, and had done whatever was in its power to encourage moderation in its region.

Also exercising the right of reply, Syria’s representative said it was surprising to see the representative of Israel speaking in his first statement about helping people and “crying with pity” for those in Somalia, among other places.  And yet, everyone knew about their practices against Palestinians as well as Syrians in the Occupied Golan.  The Israeli occupation was the main reason for suffering in the region, and the main reason for extremism in the world; regarding their working with terrorists in Syria, it was true.  Based on that, the Israeli regime was working against Syria’s proposals and goals.


http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/ga11738.doc.htm


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