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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/67/PV.54
13 December 2012

General Assembly
Sixty-seventh session

54th plenary meeting
Thursday, 13 December 2012, 10 a.m.
New York

President: Mr. Jeremić ...........................................(Serbia)











In the absence of the President, Mr. Charles (Trinidad and Tobago), Vice-President, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.

Agenda item 70

Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance

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(b)Assistance to the Palestinian people

Report of the Secretary-General (А/67/84)

Draft resolution (A/67/L.38)

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The Acting President: I now give the floor to the representative of Cyprus to introduce draft resolutions A/67/L.37 and A/67/L.38.

Ms. Rafti (Cyprus): I have the honour to introduce two draft resolutions on behalf of the European Union and its member States. ...

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Let me now turn to the draft resolution A/67/L.38. It is my pleasure to introduce to the Assembly a draft resolution submitted by the 27 members of the European Union on assistance to the Palestinian people. The draft resolution has been shared with Member States. As in previous years, the European Union expects the draft resolution to be adopted by consensus.

The European Union reaffirms its commitment to providing assistance to the Palestinian people. The sustained support from the donors of the international community is essential to assisting Palestinian State-building efforts, to strengthening the Palestinian economy, and to meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

The draft resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people submitted today embodies the wish of the European Union and of the international community as a whole to help the Palestinian people. The draft resolution stresses the importance of the work done by the United Nations and its agencies, notably in providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. It urges all actors of the international community to provide economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. It also urges Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms. Moreover, the draft resolution stresses the importance of the work carried out by humanitarian personnel and organizations to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, and it stresses the importance of free humanitarian access to the Palestinian people.

The European Union wishes to express its gratitude to the delegations that have asked to be included on the list of sponsors of the draft text.

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Mr. Mansour (Palestine): At the outset, on behalf of the Palestinian people, I wish to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the solidarity and support, including economic and humanitarian, of Governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations and individuals from around the world that continue to significantly assuage part of the suffering endured by our people, who have been living under Israel’s ruthless occupation for more than four decades. For millions of Palestinian families, that assistance has been the main source of survival and sustenance provided to them through endless periods of instability, crises and uncertainty. We affirm that such assistance has been vital, including in supporting the Palestinian people’s efforts towards ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, in order to achieve the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The latest figures regarding the humanitarian and economic situation in Palestine are astounding and tragic. In fact, all recent reports have documented the enormous burden international agencies are enduring in trying to address the continuously growing needs of the Palestinian people and to alleviate the now entrenched crisis, caused by the fact that the illegal actions and measures of Israel, the occupying Power, in the occupied Palestinian territory have continued unabated and have dragged the Palestinian people deeper into poverty and dependence on aid. Therefore, despite the desire of the Palestinian people to pursue development towards the independence of their State
of Palestine, Israeli policies and practices have caused reverse development in the State of Palestine, miring a sizeable portion of the Palestinian civilian population in abject poverty.

The negative repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the socioeconomic conditions of the Palestinian people have been intensified by the fact that the Palestinian National Authority continues to suffer from a severe fiscal crisis, partially triggered by shrinking external budget support, as outlined in the latest reports of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). While the total financing needs for the Palestinian National Authority during the first half of 2012 amounted to $749 million, the external financial support received was only $446 million, leading to increased borrowing needs and debt. Despite that, on its part the Palestinian National Authority implemented several steps to mitigate the decline in donor support. For example, most notably, the Palestinian National Authority widened the tax base and enhanced the collection of tax arrears from the largest corporations.

However, despite the enacted reforms, the monetary shortage remains large, thus hindering the Palestinian National Authority from investing in education, health and infrastructure, and from repaying outstanding debts to the private sector, which is necessary to fostering an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and private-sector investment. As a result, Palestine’s economic growth rate decreased and unemployment rates increased throughout the first half of 2012.

We therefore reiterate our appeal to donor States and international organizations to fulfil their outstanding financial commitments to the Palestinian National Authority and to boost their fiscal support. Moreover, we call on the international community to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to end its ongoing practice of withholding taxes and customs revenues due to the Palestinian people, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and conventions, in addition to being a form of collective punishment.

Consequently, it affects, inter alia, the ability of the Palestinian National Authority to meet its obligations to public sector employees, as well as to the private sector. While the decline and delays in donor support continue to aggravate the fiscal crisis faced by the Palestinian National Authority, it should be made clear that it is the unjust, illegitimate Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory since 1967, including East Jerusalem, that is to blame for the existence of the fiscal crisis in the first place. The geographical fragmentation of the Palestinian land through the confiscation of lands and destruction of property in connection with the expansion of Israel’s illegal colonial settlements, its continued construction of its expansionist wall throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; and the erection of a network of more
than 500 military checkpoints all contribute to the deprival of the Palestinian people’s access to more than 60 per cent of their land and to the normal flow of socioeconomic life, including commerce and trade. That 60 per cent of land holds the majority of the occupied territory’s water, agricultural lands, natural resources and land reserves that form the natural capital necessary to sustainable development. Again, it must be reiterated that such Israeli measures and actions remain the major impediment to sustainable economic growth, as they hamper both public and potential private investment, raise costs and hinder economic cohesion.

At the same time, while Israel, the occupying Power, continues to deny the Palestinian people sovereignty over their natural resources, it continues to unabatedly exploit those very resources. For example, more than 90 per cent of Palestinian water resources are exploited by Israel, most notably for use by the more than 500,000 illegal settlers the occupying Power has transferred to settlements throughout the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. With less than 10 per cent of those resources left for Palestinian use, average Palestinian water consumption is only 70 litres per capita per day, which is below the 100-litre threshold recommended by the World Health Organization, and much less than the average 300 litres per capita per day enjoyed in Israel. Due to that reality, and as a consequence of mobility restrictions, only 35 per cent of irrigable Palestinian land is actually irrigated, which costs the economy a staggering 110,000 jobs and 10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The immoral and illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip poses another immense impediment to achieving sustainable Palestinian economic growth. The limited access of Palestinian entrepreneurs to competitive international markets, especially for the purpose of exporting agricultural goods, continues to discourage private-sector investment, which is a pillar of economic growth. As detailed in the latest report issued by UNCTAD, Palestinian exports declined by $136 million in 2011, to reach slightly more than $1 billion, while imports also declined by $434 million, to reach $4.2 billion. Consequently, the Palestinian trade deficit increased in 2011 to $3.2 billion, causing a decline in GDP.

Indeed, the socioeconomic situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza remains dire, with the blockade adversely impacting the viability of all aspects of life. Economic, health, education and other societal indicators reveal the magnitude of the humanitarian suffering that has been deliberately inflicted by the occupying Power on the Palestinian civilian population, in what definitely constitutes collective punishment on the scale of a war crime.

We are thereby obliged to reiterate our call on the international community to exert every possible effort, including practical measures, to compel Israel to immediately lift its dehumanizing, unlawful blockade of the Gaza Strip and the more than 1.6 million Palestinians living there.

In addition to hampering economic growth, the Israeli Government regrettably continues to impose trade restrictions that make the Palestinian economy dependent on Israel’s economy. Unable to access the international marketplace, Palestinians are forced to trade with Israel, the occupying Power, which makes the State of Palestine the number-one importer of Israeli products. In 2011, trade with Israel amounted to 83 per cent of total Palestinian trade, with 83 per cent of imports originating from and through Israel and 80 per cent absorbed by Israeli markets. Such high dependence deprives the Palestinian economy of more competitive sources of imports and markets for exports, and heightens its vulnerability to the Israeli business cycle.

To conclude, the economic and humanitarian assistance of the international community is crucial but not enough. Strengthening that assistance in order to achieve its higher objectives requires serious efforts and action aimed at removing the tremendous obstacles the occupying Power places on the ground, and which continue to undermine the efforts of the Palestinian people and its leadership to fully realize the independence of the State of Palestine on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace with all of its neighbours, including Israel. If the international community truly aspires to see the two-State solution materialize and observe a sustained economic growth trajectory and development for the Palestinian people, it must compel the occupying Power to end all its illegal measures and actions and finally terminate its military occupation.

The international community must face up to its responsibility and put pressure on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international, humanitarian and human rights law because, after more than 45 years of occupation, it can no longer stand idly by while an entire people continue to be denied their inalienable human rights — including the right to live in freedom and dignity — and while their society is being deliberately devastated and debilitated.

Mr. Al-Jarman (United Arab Emirates) (spoke in Arabic): ...

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The United Arab Emirates is deeply concerned about the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, due to Israel’s continued occupation and its policies of aggression and blockade, especially in the Gaza Strip, which has been subject for years to a siege imposed by the Israeli occupying forces, as well as to recent brutal attacks. We renew our call to the international community to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to its residents and end its occupation of Arab lands. We also urge donor countries to continue their aid to the Palestinian people and Government until the Israeli occupation of their land ends and their independent State is established.

The United Arab Emirates is committed to continuing to provide humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. It is one of the major contributors to current humanitarian assistance and development projects, as well as to the direct budget of the Palestinian Authority. Our contribution in 2011 amounted to $34 million in support of the Palestinian people and Government and development projects. In that context, we reaffirm our support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and stress the importance of its role in helping the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories. We also emphasize the importance of allowing UNRWA workers and aid easy access to the Palestinian refugees in all areas of its operations, which will require providing it with enough financial support to enable it to continue its humanitarian and development activities in the area.

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Mr. Quinlan (Australia): ...

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Australia welcomes the calm in Gaza, which seems to be holding after the ceasefire announced on 22 November. We urge all sides to adhere to the terms of that ceasefire. We are concerned by United Nations reports that almost 65 per cent of the people killed in the Gaza conflict were civilians, and that many more civilians were injured. We continue to support the efforts of United Nations agencies to provide basic services and support for Palestinians in need of humanitarian assistance. We must stress that recent events highlight the compelling need to find a durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated two-State settlement, and for that to happen before the window completely closes.

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Mr. Haniff (Malaysia): ...

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Let me now turn to the report of the Secretary-General on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/67/84). I wish to reaffirm Malaysia’s commitment to providing assistance to the Palestinian people in helping them to meet their needs. We take note the fact that additional support is urgently needed for the core budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which faces a shortfall of $70 million for 2012. In that regard, Malaysia made a one-off contribution
of $200,000 to UNRWA in November. Taking into account the latest appeal and UNRWA’s acute financial situation, the Malaysian Government has pledged an additional $1 million to help the Palestinians affected by Israel’s recent military aggression in Gaza. This additional contribution was announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on 3 December, and is part of our country’s long history of continued assistance to Palestine and its people, following more than 30 years of annual contributions to UNRWA.

Malaysia reiterates its support for the important work done by UNRWA in assisting the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. We also urge donor countries to continue their financial assistance so that UNRWA can effectively carry out its development activities in the region. The international community’s continued political commitment requires it to show solidarity through financial commitments as well.

As the Secretary-General’s report states, the United Nations will continue to work towards the realization of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Malaysia hopes and prays for a quick and lasting solution to this historical injustice.

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The meeting rose at 1 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 U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.


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