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80th plenary meeting
Friday, 15 December 2006, 5.40 p.m.
The meeting was called to order at 5.40 p.m.
Agenda item 69 (continued)
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
(d) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Draft resolution (A/61/L.47)
The President: Members will recall that the Assembly, at its 79th plenary meeting, held on 14 December 2006, adopted draft resolutions A/61/L.42; A/61/L.44; A/61/L.45, as orally corrected; A/61/L.46 and A/61/L.47, as orally corrected. We shall now hear speakers in explanation of vote or position on the resolutions adopted by the Assembly.
Mr. Cohen (Israel): In past years, and for many years now, Israel has voted in favour of draft resolutions like draft resolution A/61/L.47. Israel supports the principle of assistance to the Palestinian people and implements it on the ground. What Israel cannot support is this year’s General Assembly resolution, which ignores major political changes in the region.
Hamas, a terrorist organization whose main goal is the absolute destruction of the State of Israel, heads the Palestinian Authority Government. Hamas has repeated refused to embrace the three conditions of the international community: to recognize Israel, renounce violence and terror, and abide by previous agreements. These basic conditions must be reflected in a draft resolution, and they were not in draft resolution A/61/L.47. Hence, we were forced to alter our voting practice and abstain on that proposed text.
A hungry neighbour is not a good neighbour. It is in Israel’s interest to see Palestinian society prosper. Israel is always working on the ground, even while under terror attack, to provide tangible assistance to and cooperate with the Palestinians for their benefit. True, terrorism often makes this extremely difficult. Terrorists target crossing points used as passageways for people and goods, which forces temporary closures and other security measures.
But Israel recognizes the needs of its neighbours and maintains its assistance to the Palestinian people. Let me describe what Israel is doing to bring tangible relief to the Palestinians on the ground. Here is just one example. During the last two weeks of November, over 2,000 transports went into the Gaza Strip from Israel, carrying basic food and medical supplies. At the same time, more than 500 transports left the Gaza Strip; these included goods and agriculture for export. Twelve thousand Palestinian merchants and 17,500 day labourers were allowed into Israel from the West Bank to earn their living. From June to October of this year, 17,135 transports of goods and food supplies passed into Gaza through the Karni crossing from Israel. Over 106,720 back-to-back truck transfers also occurred.
Israel is working closely with the international community through various organizations to ensure continued assistance. Humanitarian convoys organized by Israel, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies enter Gaza from Israel to provide real assistance that goes directly to Palestinians in need of it and not to the system run by the terrorists.
Let me conclude by recalling again what the Secretary-General told the Security Council in his final report on the Middle East two days ago, on 12 December:
. “Some may feel satisfaction at repeatedly passing General Assembly resolutions or holding conferences that condemn Israel’s behaviour. But one should also ask whether such steps bring any tangible relief or benefit to the Palestinians.” ( S/PV.5584, p. 4)
Ms. Cullen (Australia): Australia voted in favour of draft resolution A/61/L.47 in recognition of our strong support for the continuing international assistance to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. Australia is committed to improving the prospects of development for the Palestinian people and to alleviating poverty and hardship. For its part, for 2006-2007, Australia has allocated $A16.2 million, in humanitarian and development aid to the Palestinian people, to be provided through United Nations agencies and appropriate non-governmental organizations.
Australia is committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Middle East conflict through a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestinian representatives. Australia supports a two-State solution that recognizes the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders.
Consistent with this approach, Australia is disappointed that it was not possible to include in this resolution a clear call for Hamas to accept the Quartet principles. While the text welcomes the role of the temporary international mechanism, it would seem reasonable and correct to acknowledge that the temporary international mechanism is a direct result of the refusal by Hamas to accept the clear, unequivocal terms set by the Quartet and the international community for international support, namely, that it, as a Palestinian Government, renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements negotiated by Palestinian representatives.
Australia, together with the rest of the international community, has always stood ready to support the peace process. We strongly urge both Israelis and Palestinians to work together and, with the support of the international community, to bring about a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
Mr. Mottaghi-Nejad (Islamic Republic of Iran): We voted in favour of draft resolution A/61/L.47 and of the draft resolutions contained in documents A/61/407 and A/61/408, under agenda items 31 and 32, respectively, on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and 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.
By voting in favour of those resolutions, we have made clear that we share the international community’s concern at the Palestinian people’s pain and suffering caused by the occupying Power, the Israeli regime. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that a durable peace in Palestine will be possible only through justice, an end to discrimination, an end to the occupation of all Palestinian territories, the return of all Palestinian refugees, resort to democratic means to determine the wishes of the people, and the establishment of a democratic Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
I request that this explanation of vote be reflected in the records of this meeting.
Ms. Hulan (Canada): I take the floor this evening in explanation of Canada’s vote on draft resolution A/61/L.47, “Assistance to the Palestinian people”.
Canada remains deeply committed to supporting the Palestinian people and will continue to respond to their humanitarian needs, namely through our contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and to other United Nations agencies. Those needs have been amplified by the dramatic worsening of the security and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. Canada therefore continues to support this resolution.
Canada makes an important distinction between assistance to the Palestinian Authority and assistance to the Palestinian people. We are concerned by the fact that this resolution does not include an explicit reference to the Quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map for peace. A clear commitment by the Palestinian Government to those principles is essential.
Nevertheless, working with our partners and through the United Nations, its agencies and other organizations, Canada will continue to support and respond to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.
The President: We have heard the last speaker in explanation of vote or position.
May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its consideration of sub-items (a) and (d) of agenda item 69?
It was so decided.
The President: The General Assembly has thus concluded this stage of its consideration of agenda item 69.
The meeting rose at 6.15 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.