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


Fifty-fifth General Assembly
Fourth Committee
24th Meeting (PM)
GA/SPD/203
10 November 2000



FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES 12 DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON ISRAELI PRACTICES,

WORK OF UN RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved 12 draft resolutions this afternoon, as it concluded its consideration of the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and Israeli practices affecting human rights in the occupied Arab territories.

It approved seven drafts on the work of UNRWA and five texts relating to the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Of the 12 texts, 11 required recorded votes.

The Committee approved, by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, a draft on persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities. (See Annex II).

By that text, the General Assembly would reaffirm the right of all those displaced persons to return to their homes in the territories. It would express the hope for an accelerated return of displaced people through the mechanism agreed upon by the parties in article XII of the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements.

Also by that text, the General Assembly would endorse, in the meanwhile, the efforts of UNRWA’s Commissioner-General to continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance, as a temporary measure, to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continued assistance as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities.

A draft on Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues was approved by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions. (See Annex V).

By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm that the Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to income derived from it, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity. The Assembly would, by other terms, urge the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of the refugees' properties and their revenues in the framework of the final status negotiations of the Middle East peace process. The Assembly would also call once again upon the Government of Israel to compensate UNWRA for damages to its property and facilities resulting from actions by the Israeli side.

The Committee approved a third text, on assistance to Palestine refugees, by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 1 abstention (United States) ( Annex I).

That text would have the General Assembly reiterate its deep concern regarding UNRWA’s persisting critical financial situation as outlined in the Commissioner-General’s report. It would note with profound concern that the continuing shortfall in the Agency's finances has a significant negative influence on the living conditions of the Palestine refugees most in need and that it has possible consequences for the peace process.

A draft on the operations of UNRWA would have the General Assembly call upon Israel to abide by articles 100, 104 and 105 of the United Nations Charter and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations with regard to the safety of the Agency's personnel and the protection of its institutions, as well as the safeguarding of the security of its facilities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. The Committee approved that text by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions (Annex IV).

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a text on the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA, by which the Assembly would request the Working Group to continue its efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General, to find a solution to the Agency's financial situation. It would welcome the new, unified budget structure for the 2000-2001 biennium, which can contribute significantly to improved budgetary transparency.

By the terms of a draft on offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees, the General Assembly would strongly appeal to all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to augment the special allocations for grants and scholarships to Palestine refugees, in addition to their contributions to UNRWA’s regular budget. That text was approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Israel) (Annex III).

Acting on a final UNRWA-related draft on the University of Jerusalem "Al Quds" for Palestine refugees, the Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions (Annex VI).

According to that text, the General Assembly would emphasize the need to strengthen the educational system in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 5 June 1967, including Jerusalem, and specifically the need for the establishment of the proposed university. Also by that text, the Assembly would appeal to all States, specialized agencies and the United Nations University to contribute generously to the Palestinian universities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in due course, the proposed University of Jerusalem "Al Quds" for Palestine refugees.

The Committee also approved a draft on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions. By its terms, the General Assembly would demand that Israel cease all practices and actions which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. (See Annex X).

The Committee also approved, by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with no abstentions, a text on the applicability of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons In Time of War to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories. (See Annex VIII.)

That text would have the General Assembly reaffirm that the Convention is applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967. It would demand that Israel accept the Convention's de jure applicability in the occupied territories and that it comply scrupulously with its provisions.

By a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the Committee approved a text on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, by which the General Assembly would reaffirm that those settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace and socio-economic development (Annex IX).

Also by that draft, the Assembly would demand complete cessation of the construction of the new settlement in Jabal Abu-Ghneim and of all Israeli settlement activities. It would stress the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 904 (1994), which called upon Israel to implement measures aimed at preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and called for measures to guarantee the safety of and protection of the Palestinian civilians.

The Committee also approved, by a recorded 123 votes in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 1 abstention (United States), a separate draft on the occupied Syrian Golan by which the Assembly would call upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against the local population (Annex XI).

In another action, the Committee approved a text on the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories by a recorded 68 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 53 abstentions (Annex VII).

According to that text, the General Assembly would demand that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate. It would deplore those policies and practices of Israel which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, as reflected in the reports of the Special Committee covering the reporting period. The Assembly would especially condemn the excessive use of force resulting, in the last few weeks, in more than 160 Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries.

The representatives of France and the Netherlands introduced the drafts on assistance to Palestine refugees and the Working Group on the financing of UNRWA respectively. The representative of Indonesia introduced the remaining five texts relating to the Agency’s activities. Cuba’s representative introduced all five texts on the report of the Special Committee on Israeli Practices.

Speaking in explanation of vote following the Committee’s approval of the draft resolutions were the representatives of Canada, Australia and France (on behalf of the European Union).

The representative of Syria and the observer for Palestine made general statements as the Committee concluded its consideration of the two agenda items.

When the Fourth Committee meets again at 10 a.m. Monday, 13 November, it will begin its consideration of questions related to information, the last item on its agenda.


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