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        Economic and Social Council
7 August 2007

Original: ENGLISH


Substantive session of 2007

General segment


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,

on Thursday, 26 July 2007, at 3 p.m.

President: Mr. MÉRORÈS (Haiti)





In the absence of Mr. Čekuolis, Mr. Mérorès (Haiti), Vice-President, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 3.45 p.m.



Draft resolution E/2007/L.26: Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan

The PRESIDENT invited the Council to take action on draft resolution E/2007/L.26 and informed members that a vote had been requested.

Mr. MOLCHAN (Belarus) said that Belarus wished to join the sponsors.

Ms. FURMAN (Observer for Israel) said that, in presenting yet another one-sided resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, its sponsors were again exploiting the Council for their own personal agenda. The obsession with vilifying Israel was evident from the fact that there were no other resolutions on the socio-economic situation of peoples or countries in need of the support of the United Nations or the international community. The distorted perspective through which the United Nations was often compelled to view the conflict in the region had the effect of preventing any scrutiny of Palestinian actions.

The failure to recognize the campaign of terror and violence perpetrated against Israel over the previous six years, to take into account internal Palestinian polarization that had resulted in the Gaza Strip being taken over by extremist terrorist factions, or to mention the spirit of renewed dialogue and cooperation in the West Bank between the Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President, and the historic visit of members of the Arab League to Israel were examples of the resolution’s glaring omissions.

A draft resolution marked by inflammatory language that pointedly refused to take into account facts that did not support its pre-determined outcome had no place in either the Council or the United Nations. Its motivation was purely political, rather than improvement of the socio-economic situation of Palestinians, and she urged all delegations to vote against it.

Ms. AL RIFAIY (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that the situation in the occupied Arab territories of Palestine, including Jerusalem, as well as the occupied Syrian Arab Golan was very dramatic. People were condemned to hunger, humiliation and arbitrary action, including expulsion, yet the Council had received only a brief overview of the activities of the Israeli occupying power. A number of United Nations bodies had however revealed the dire conditions in the occupied territories, which some sought to pass over. The only matter in doubt was whether arbitrary action against a whole people would persist, whether we would continue to witness an occupation that turned its back on all international instruments and morals. Her delegation invited the members of the Council to adopt the draft resolution without a vote, in order to convey a moral message to the people in the occupied territories, to send a signal of support to the resistance of the Palestinian people, and a signal to the entire world, that the occupying forces did not have carte blanche to destroy a people’s life, culture and economy.

Mr. PEREIRA (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that no entity had provided greater economic and social support to the Palestinian people, in keeping with its grave concern of the critical humanitarian situation in the occupied territories. In 2006 the European Union had provided 688 million euros in assistance, and in the first half of 2007 the contribution of the European Commission through the Temporary International Mechanism had amounted to 320 million euros. The European Union gave its full support to President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, had resumed direct financial and technical assistance to the Palestinian Government and was committed to help build the institutions and economy of the future Palestinian State.

The European Union called on all parties to work towards the opening of humanitarian and commercial flows in and out of Gaza and to ensure that Karni and other crossings were open on a regular and predictable basis, with a view to reaching the transit volumes foreseen in the Agreement on Movement and Access, essential for the viability of the Palestinian economy and improved living conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. It welcomed the financial commitments recently announced by the President of the United States and invited other donors to provide funding and other forms of contribution.

The Presidency of the European Union regretted to announce that the European Union as a whole would not be able to support the draft resolution before the Council. While it appreciated the co-sponsors’ cooperation and significant concessions, the text fell short of all European Union’s requirements. Lasting improvement of the economic and social situation of the occupied Palestinian territory depended on sustained progress towards a just and lasting settlement of the conflict, leading to the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region. The European Union strongly encouraged the parties to continue their bilateral dialogue to that end, and was determined to work with the United States, other Quartet partners as well as regional partners in an effort to bring about an early end to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The vote on draft resolution E/2007/L.26 was taken by roll-call.

The Czech Republic, having been drawn by lot by the President, was called upon to vote first.

In favour: Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand.

Against: Canada, United States of America.

Abstaining: Albania, Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Draft resolution E/2007/L.26 was adopted by 29 votes to 2, with 18 abstentions.

Mr. ADSETT (Canada) said that, while Canada recognized the hardship confronting the Palestinian people, it had voted against the draft resolution since it did not adequately reflect the responsibilities and obligations of the Palestinian Authority to secure the economic and social well-being of its people. For such resolutions to be relevant and useful, they must reflect the commensurate role and responsibility of all parties involved. Canada welcomed the constructive agenda of the new Palestinian Government and would work with it to help secure its goals of peace, stability and good governance.

Mr. MILLER (United States) said that the United States shared the concerns about the hardships facing the Palestinian people, but had voted against the draft resolution since it reflected neither the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor the need for both parties to take steps to create peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The one-sided draft resolution asked the Council to condemn Israeli actions, but had failed to address Palestinian actions or inaction. As a member of the Quartet, the United Nations must be seen by both sides as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict. One-sided resolutions undermined the ability of the United Nations to play a constructive role in furthering peace. The fact that the draft resolution was not acceptable to his delegation in no way diminished the United States’ support for the Palestinian Government of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. The fundamental choice facing all peoples of the Middle East was between violent extremism, on the one hand, and tolerance and responsibility, on the other. Hamas had made its choice by seeking to extinguish democratic debate with violence and to impose an extremist agenda on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In his call for a new international peace conference to address the issue of peace, and the realization of the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, the President of the United States had underscored his country’s commitment to a better future for all people in the region, including the Palestinians. The responsible people of Palestine, led by President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, were making their choice, and it was the duty of the international community to support those Palestinians who wished to build a better life and a future of peace. Moreover, the Palestinian people and the Arab world were aware of the United States’ continuing and significant aid to the Palestinian people.

Within the context of its participation in the Middle-East Quartet, the United Sates had lifted its financial restrictions on the Palestinian Government, which had accepted previous agreements with Israel and rejected the path of violence. Such action would enable the people of the United States and its financial institutions to resume normal economic activity and commercial ties with the Palestinian Government. The United States was also reviewing its assistance to help the new Government build institutions and infrastructure that would improve the lives of Palestinians by providing essential services, better roads and clean drinking water. Hamas had sought to divide the Palestinian nation, but the United States believed that there was one Palestinian people and there should be one Palestinian State. To help ease the suffering of all Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, the United States would contribute 40 million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and would also provide additional assistance in Gaza through the World Food Programme efforts.

Nonetheless, the United States had consistently opposed actions such as the draft resolution presented to the Council that diverted attention and resources from practical steps taken by the Quartet and its regional and international partners to move the parties towards the realization of the two-State vision. Particularly in view of the current situation, the United States urged the Council to focus on effective and constructive steps to address Palestinian needs and help to foster progress on the path toward greater stability, security and peace.

Mr. MORI (Japan) said that his delegation shared the concern about the living conditions of the Palestinian people residing in the occupied territories, and was agreed on the need to provide appropriate assistance to them. Nevertheless, he believed the language of the draft resolution was unbalanced, and that the text made one-sided demands without reflecting certain recent developments on the ground. His delegation also believed that the Economic and Social Council was not the appropriate body in which to take up such political issues.

The meeting rose at 5 p.m.

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