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        Economic and Social Council
29 September 2008

Original: English

Substantive session of 2008
General segment

Provisional summary record of the 40th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 23 July 2008, at 10 a.m.

President: Mr. Hoscheit (Vice-President) ............................................................. (Luxembourg)


Social and human rights questions

(a) Advancement of women

Regional cooperation (continued)

Coordination, programme and other questions (continued)

(d) Long-term programme of support for Haiti (continued)

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

The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.


Social and human rights questions (E/2008/77)

(a) Advancement of women (E/2008/27, E/2008/53, E/2008/62, E/2008/73 and E/2008/91)


Draft resolution entitled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”

42. The President drew attention to Chapter I, Section B, of the report, which contained a draft resolution entitled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”. The draft resolution had been adopted by the Commission by a recorded vote of 33 to 1, with 9 abstentions. A roll-call vote had been requested.

43. Ms. Eilon Shahar (Observer for Israel), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that the draft resolution was an annual, politically motivated initiative that ignored the reality on the ground; it was also the Commission’s only geographically or politically specific draft resolution. If the drafters had had a genuine interest in helping Palestinian women, they would have mentioned the oppressive internal conditions imposed by the patriarchal bias embedded in Palestinian society and the associated domestic and gender-based violence, overt discrimination, female genital mutilation and honour killings.

44. In its recent report, “A Question of Security: Violence against Palestinian Women and Girls”, Human Rights Watch had written that there were discriminatory laws that condoned and perpetrated such violence and that there were virtually no institutionalized policies to prevent it, assist the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable. Her Government supported efforts to improve the quality of life of Palestinian women and to offer them assistance. However, because the draft resolution did not address the internal situation of human rights abuses or the suffering caused by Palestinian terrorism, it left much to be desired. She called on delegations to oppose it.

45. Ms. Phipps (United States), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that the resolution was unbalanced, expressing concern about the victims of only one side of a protracted conflict. While it criticized Israel, which tried to distinguish between civilians and combatants in the course of its military activities, it ignored the purposeful targeting of civilians by Palestinian terrorists. Her delegation was deeply concerned about the impact of the current humanitarian crisis on Palestinian women and children, and on the entire Palestinian population. It deeply regretted both that Palestinian civilians had lost their lives during the recent clashes in the Gaza Strip and that Israelis, including women and children, had suffered and died from Palestinian terrorist attacks.

46. The United States of America was the largest bilateral donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), with contributions totaling more than $154 million in 2007. It also contributed significant amounts to many other international organizations providing assistance to Palestinian women and to the entire Palestinian population, as well as providing bilateral assistance to the Palestinian Authority in order to empower Palestinians economically.

47. Her delegation would vote against to the draft resolution, however, because it was unfair, unbalanced, and inconsistent with the universalist values of the Council. Moreover, sensitive permanent status issues such as those involving refugees should be resolved through negotiations between the two parties. Her Government was committed to working with the Quartet and with States of the region to move both parties towards the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The focus of the international community should be on helping both parties to maintain progress towards that objective. One-sided resolutions only served to undermine the ability of the United Nations to play a constructive role in the situation, making less attainable the peace that, more than anything else, would improve the lot of Palestinian women and of everyone caught up in the conflict.

48. The vote was taken by roll-call.

49. Greece, having been drawn by lot by the President, was called upon to vote first .

In favour:
Algeria, Angola, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Cape Verde, China, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan.

Canada, United States of America.

Austria, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Lucia, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

* The delegations of the Philippines and Uruguay subsequently informed the Council that they had intended to vote in favour of the draft resolution.

50. The draft resolution was adopted by 25 votes to 2, with 17 abstentions.*

51. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) expressed her thanks to those delegations that had voted in favour of the draft resolution, which had reaffirmed respect for international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law at a time when the Palestinian people were facing heightened poverty, health-related issues, and the violation of their human rights and dignity.

52. The statement made by the representative of Israel distorted the context of the occupation while ignoring Israel’s violations and crimes. It was shocking to speak as if Israel did not commit human rights violations and carry out unlawful policies and practices against the Palestinian people and as if it were not an occupying power of an entire people and a colonizer of their land. If Israel could not acknowledge its crimes and wrongdoings, how could it ever cease them and make amends?

53. It was also wrong for the delegation of Israel to comment on the internal Palestinian situation. The Palestinians did not comment on or meddle in Israel’s internal political, economic or social affairs, despite the existence of sexual violence and discrimination by high-level officials, corruption, discrimination and other crimes.

54. Israel should stop trying to exploit the current situation to its own advantage, which could in no way benefit the cause of promoting peace and reconciliation Instead, it should focus on complying with the law, upholding its legal obligations as an occupying power and truly engaging in the peace process with a view to an end to the disastrous occupation and a peaceful settlement.


The meeting rose at 11.45 a.m.

Corrections to this record should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza.

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