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Aperçu des travaux de 67e de l’AG; - D'accords de statut d’État observateur non membre à la Palestine; violence a Gaza – Communiqué de presse Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
3 January 2013

General Assembly

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly



Assembly, ‘Grand Pantheon of Hope for World’s People’, Spotlights
Peaceful Dispute Settlement, among other Vital Issues for Sixty-Seventh Session

Against a backdrop of unravelling socio-political landscapes in Africa and the Middle East, weather-related and natural disasters wreaking havoc across virtually all regions, and uneven progress on the Millennium Development Goals — telltale signs the world in 2012 was becoming more unpredictable and dangerous — the General Assembly, during the main part of its sixty-seventh session, tackled a range of the year’s most critical international issues.

“We are beset by a series of ruptures that seem to be building in intensity … [and whose] effects can barely be kept in check,” said Assembly President Vuk Jeremić of Serbia as he opened the 193-member body’s 2012 general debate. Rarely had it been more necessary for the world to draw closer together, he stressed, adding that “it is to that endeavour that I believe we should devote the full scope of our resources”.

The General Assembly, as “the grand pantheon of hope for the peoples of the world”, had a major role to play, he said, in navigating an increasingly complex international landscape, which was marked, in particular, by the repositioning of States, the rising influence of non-State actors and new quests for empowerment by populations around the globe.

While some recent calls for self-determination had engendered peaceful transitions of power and the rise of new, democratic Governments — several of whose newly-elected leaders addressed the Assembly for the first time in 2012 — Mr. Jeremić noted concerns that the Arab Spring might have had a number of unintended consequences. Among those were the reawakening of sectarian loyalties and ethnic, as well as tribal tensions, many of them long suppressed. “The legacy of the grand, noble quest of the peoples of the Middle East for empowerment hinges on how these and other dangers are going to be dealt with,” he stressed.


Bookended by bloody conflicts in Syria and the Gaza Strip — and punctuated by several others — the session saw Member States sharply divided over how to react to such crises. Regarding Syria, many delegates, speaking in particular during the Assembly’s annual debates on the work of the United Nations and on the Assembly’s own revitalization, focused on the inability of the Security Council — the main body responsible for international peace and security — to act to prevent further tragedy, and called on the Assembly to play a complementary role.

Meanwhile, a number of delegations at those meetings emphasized that the peaceful settlement of any dispute — including that in Syria — must be framed within the purposes of the United Nations Charter, including the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the threat or use of force. Still others noted that responses to the Syrian crisis must not be one-sided, as all conflict parties had equal responsibility to protect human rights.

In that vein, speakers on a number of matters throughout the session voiced concern about the escalating crisis in Africa’s Sahel region, in particular in northern Mali, where armed groups, some of which were reportedly associated with Al-Qaida, had taken political control and were committing human rights violations. While that matter had been referred to the Security Council, many States expressed the need for stronger international action to combat terrorism, with the Assembly leading the way.

One of the session’s most galvanizing moments came on 29 November, traditionally the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as the Assembly voted overwhelmingly to accord Palestine an upgraded status at the United Nations — that of a non-member observer State. With 138 States voting in favour to 9 against, with 41 abstentions, the Assembly decided to alter the status of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which had been recognized as an observer entity since 1974. The vote came a year after Palestine had submitted an unsuccessful bid for full membership in the United Nations, a move which had ultimately been blocked in the Security Council.

While some delegations questioned the wisdom of the upgrade, calling the move “counterproductive” and noting concern that such a “unilateral” move at the United Nations would further hinder stalled peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, many of those addressing the Assembly’s annual two-day debate on the Question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East expressed strong support for the measure. Speakers noted recent improvements in Palestine’s governance and institutional structure, and said that an upgraded status at the United Nations could pave the way for full statehood. In addition, many heralded the Assembly’s vote as the long-overdue completion of what, some 65 years earlier, had been intended as the creation of two independent States — Israel and Palestine — on the contested territory.

Moreover, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he addressed the Assembly, “the rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering”, he asserted, referring to the peace negotiation “which has lost its objectivity and credibility”. Palestine’s request to change its status was intended not to bypass those negotiations, he said, but to “breathe new life” into them. Yet, Israel’s representative said that rather than advance peace, the “one-sided” measure had instead pushed the process backward. “There is only one route to Palestinian statehood. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes,” he said. The route to peace ran through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah.


Resolutions in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on the Arab-Israeli conflict assumed even greater significance in November as international concern mounted over the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza. In line with its work programme, the Committee approved a series of texts, by which it asked the Assembly to condemn all acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force by Israeli-occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the beleaguered enclave, and to voice grave concern at the firing of rockets in Israeli civilian areas. The Committee’s consideration of items across its broad spectrum of political and scientific concerns produced a raft of texts on decolonization underpinned by the right of Non-Self-Governing Territories to shape their destinies. Drafts on atomic radiation and peaceful uses of outer space were also forwarded to the Assembly.




As the Assembly took up its annual debate on the Middle East and the Question of Palestine, Member States voted, by an overwhelming margin, to accord Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations. Coming just over a year after Palestine had submitted an unsuccessful bid for full membership in the Organization, the move — which upgraded Palestine’s status from that of observer entity, which it had held since 1974 — was described by many participants in the two-day debate as a “historic” action which would set the stage for the full participation of Palestinians in multilateral affairs, and for the end to the long-standing Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and other territories of the Middle East.


Second Committee


As in previous sessions, the Assembly voted on a text requiring Israel to compensate Lebanon and Syria for the costs of repairing environmental damage caused by the Israeli Air Force’s destruction of oil storage tanks near Lebanon’s El-Jiyeh electric power plant, and on another demanding that Israel stop exploiting, damaging, depleting or endangering the resources of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and of the population in the occupied Syrian Golan.


Fourth Committee

The usual divisions persisted in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) following its typically vigorous debate on how best to advance decolonization, assist Palestinian refugees, and reform Israeli practices, leading to recorded votes on more than half of the 28 draft texts it forwarded to the General Assembly. Consensus once again emerged on guarding outer space from the dangers of an arms race, improving dissemination of the United Nations message, and shaping special political missions as an outgrowth of peacekeeping operations.


The Committee’s consideration of the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices affecting the Human Rights of Palestinian Peoples took place during the sharp escalation of violence in the region, making more germane an already timely and impassioned debate. In its report on that grim situation, the Special Committee concluded that Israeli practices “might amount to a strategy to either force the Palestinian people off their land or so severely marginalize them as to establish and maintain a system of permanent suppression”.

Characterizing the ensuing discussion as a “theatre of the absurd”, Israel’s representative said the Committee “turned a blind eye” to the culpability of Palestinians, who had launched more than 1,000 rockets and mortar shells against Israeli towns and villages in the past year alone. Israel was a vibrant democracy, the delegate said, with a highly respected judiciary system accessible to all — citizens and foreigners alike. Furthermore, the country was committed to a “permanent peace agreement” with the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, in light of what all agreed was a dire refugee problem in the region, the Fourth Committee heard its annual briefing by the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), who said “tiptoeing away from UNRWA was not an option”. He urged delegates for a “quantum and sustained leap” of commitment to resolve the Agency’s dire funding needs. The Committee concluded its agenda item on the Middle East with approval, by recorded votes, of nine draft resolutions, five on the work of the Special Committee on Israeli Practices and four on UNRWA.


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