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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/EF/2803
2 December 1997


RIGHTS OF PALESTINIANS OVER NATURAL RESOURCES REAFFIRMED

IN TEXT APPROVED BY SECOND COMMITTEE

Resolutions Also Approved on Migration and Development, Poverty Eradication,
Cultural Development, Southern African Development Community


The General Assembly would call on Israel not to exploit or endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, by the terms of a draft resolution approved by recorded vote this morning in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial). Four draft resolutions were approved without a vote.

By terms of the draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 (Israel and the United States) against, with 13 abstentions, the Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water. (For details of the vote, see Annex.)

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Statements on the draft texts were made by the representatives of Austria, Canada, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Libya, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Mexico, Russian Federation, Syria, United States and Yemen, as well as the Observer for Palestine.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 3 December, to take action on other draft resolutions.

Committee Work Programme

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take action on five draft resolutions. By a draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/52/L.6/Rev.1), the Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water. The Assembly would call upon Israel not to exploit, to cause loss or depletion of or to endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan. It would request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its fifty-third session on the implementation of the resolution. The Assembly would also decide to include in the agenda of its fifty-third session the item on the subject.

The resolution is sponsored by Algeria, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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Action on Draft Texts

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The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/52/L.6/Rev.1).

Algeria, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, and Mauritania were called as co-sponsors of the resolution.

Mr. ABDELLATIF (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution and made the following oral amendment:

-- In the second preambular paragraph, line 1, the word "people" should be replaced by "peoples".

The CHAIRMAN said that the United States had requested a recorded vote on the draft resolution.

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Israel said that when Scheherezade told her stories during 1,001 nights to the Caliph Haroun al Raschid, little could she have imagined that her fantasies would be echoed in the United Nations so many years later. Yet, that was the case with the draft resolution and with so many other resolutions passed on matters concerning the Middle East.

He said Israel would vote against the resolution, because its preambular section set out to rewrite history. The future status and extent of the territories under discussion were intended to be a matter for negotiation. With regard to the Palestinians, who did not exist as an entity in 1967, that negotiation was currently under way. It was valid in international law that territories taken in self-defence could be retained for as long as required in order to prevent further aggression.

Regarding the lack of implementation of the Israel-Palestinian agreements, he said the timetable for implementation had been upset by the Palestinian failure to carry out their undertakings concerning terrorist activity and the guarantees of security contained in the Interim Agreement. Furthermore, including Jerusalem in the so-called "occupied" Palestinian territory was a further attempt to create facts by resolution. Jerusalem had never been the capital of an Arab State and any attempt to divide the city could only be seen as a recipe for disaster.

The draft resolution was political, he added. It was designed to serve the political ends of an observer delegation. It attempted to prejudge the outcome of negotiations to the detriment of Israel. The subject should be sent back to the General Assembly, and the Second Committee should stop serving as an unquestioning rubber stamp.

The representative of the United States said his Government was firmly opposed to the flawed resolution. It inappropriately injected the General Assembly into the direct negotiations between the parties, which were designed to resolve the very issues in question. The draft text attempted to predetermine the outcome of those talks, using one-sided and judgmental language. For that same reason, he rejected the use of the term "sovereignty", which, by its very nature, prejudged the outcome of negotiations.

The United States would continue to oppose references to "the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem", he said. The specific reference to Jerusalem was unacceptable, had no effect whatsoever on issues of sovereignty and inappropriately prejudged the permanent political arrangements in territories that could only be determined by direct negotiations. The United States would vote against the resolution and urged other delegations to do so as well.

The representative of Jordan said the representative of Israel had mistakenly said that Scheherezade had told her stories to the Caliph Haroun al Raschid, which was not the case. That mistake reflected the further inaccuracy of his statement.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, by a vote of 124 in favour to 2 against (Israel and United States), with 13 abstentions. (For details of the vote, see Annex.)

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Syria said his delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution because it confirmed the international community's concern regarding the legitimate Palestinian rights to their natural resources. The draft text was particularly important because the Middle East peace process depended on relevant United Nations resolutions and the principle of land for peace. His Government had hoped that the draft resolutions could have made explicit and clear reference to Israel's responsibilities for the current difficulties in the peace process.

The representative of Japan said the Middle East conflict could only be resolved through the ongoing peace process, which his Government would continue to support. He voted in favour of the draft resolution, but its adoption should not prejudice negotiations on the final phase of the Israel- Palestinian agreement. The Second Committee was not the appropriate place to address the problem.

The representative of Iran said he had voted in favour of the draft resolution. However, that vote should not be construed as recognition of Israel.

The representative of the (Russian Federation) said his Government supported the draft resolution, even though it contained an inappropriate reference to Security Council resolution 425 (1978) in the seventh preambular paragraph.

The representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union voted in favour of the draft resolution because the natural resources of a territory should not be used in an inappropriate or illegal manner by the occupying power. Yet, questions raised in draft were part of the negotiations on permanent status and should be addressed by the parties involved. The draft should not be seen as prejudging the results of ongoing negotiations.

The representative of Libya said he had voted in favour of the draft resolution, but that vote should not be taken as a recognition of Israel.

The Observer for Palestine expressed gratitude to all those who voted in favour of the resolution. Israel, in its statement to the Committee, had once again distorted logic. Israel was the only State in the world that had no borders. It was not true, as the Israeli delegate had claimed, that the 1967 aggression was committed in self-defence. Israel was once again defying the international community by continuing to expand settlements and confiscate more territories.



ANNEX

Vote on Palestinian Natural Resources


The draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/52/L.6/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 against, with 13 abstentions:

In Favour: Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Federated States of Micronesia, Georgia, Latvia, Marshall Islands, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Uruguay.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Palau, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zambia.


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