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15. The Chair invited the Committee to consider the draft resolutions submitted under agenda items 52 and 53, noting that they had no programme budget implications.
16. Mr. Khan (Indonesia), introducing the four draft resolutions under agenda item 52 (A/C.4/66/L.9-L.12), said that the texts reflected the strong support of the international community for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and for its mandate. He expressed the hope that they would receive overwhelming support in the Committee.
17. Mr. León González (Cuba), introducing the five draft resolutions under agenda item 53 (A/C.4/66/L.13-L.17), said that the human rights situation of the civilian populations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan remained critical as a result of Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, still required the attention of the international community, especially in view of Israel’s illegal settlement campaign. Tensions had increased, jeopardizing the possibility of achieving a two-State solution based on pre-1967 borders. The Gaza Strip was also a matter of concern. He called on the members of the Committee to support the draft resolutions.
18. Mr. Lagergren (Observer for the European Union), recalling the European Union’s statements in explanation of vote of the previous year on some of the resolutions on items related to Palestine, acknowledged the efforts of the Palestine delegation to streamline the texts and reduce the number of resolutions, and encouraged further steps in that regard. The European Union fully supported a two-State solution and deeply appreciated the invaluable work of UNRWA.
19. Ms. Ventura (Canada) said that her Government supported a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, a solution which should be reached through a negotiated settlement between the parties that would guarantee Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbours and lead to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian State. The Quartet statement of 23 September 2011 provided a good basis on which to move forward.
20. On the issue of both parties having a positive role to play in a lasting peace, Canada had long been concerned by the sheer number of United Nations resolutions critical solely of Israel. No other conflict in the world had absorbed so much time and energy on the part of Member States, even though there were many other longstanding conflicts. The draft resolutions before the Committee did not address the complexities of the issues or the actions and responsibilities of all parties concerned. As a package, they were one-sided and unbalanced, made no reference to terrorist activities carried out by Hamas and others against Israel, and were thus ultimately unhelpful to the cause of a lasting negotiated peace. There were important elements in the draft resolutions that needed to be discussed, but they were drowned out by their unbalanced nature.
21. As a result, Canada had made a decision based on its principled foreign policy to vote no or to abstain on the package of General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East. The problem was with the process. Canada’s long-standing position had not changed: Israel was bound by the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and must comply with its provisions. Canada would continue to support efforts for a negotiated solution and would do what it could to help the parties achieve that solution. However, until there was a more balanced approach, Canada would express its discontent with the process through its votes.
Draft resolution A/C.4/66/L.9: Assistance to Palestine refugees
22. The Chair announced that Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Netherlands, Portugal and Ukraine had joined the sponsors of the draft resolution.
23. A recorded vote was taken.
48. Mr. Sahraei (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that his delegation had voted in favour of draft resolutions A/C.4/66/L.13, L.14 and L.16 to show its solidarity with the Palestinian people and stress the importance of international recognition of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves from foreign occupation and aggression. Owing to lack of attention to the root causes of the Palestinian crisis, it had remained unresolved for more than six decades, and the illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories by the Israeli regime had continued, as had the persistent violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and the right of the Palestine refugees to return to their homeland.
49. Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Observer for Palestine) thanked all the delegations that had voted in favour of the draft resolutions under agenda items 52 and 53. The reaffirmation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees, and the core principles and just positions expressed in the resolutions were of the utmost importance to Palestine.
50. She deeply regretted the unjustified abstentions and negative votes by a Member State that had historically been a strong supporter of UNRWA and of the rights of the refugees, and had played an important role as a facilitator of the multilateral refugee working group in the context of the Middle East peace process. She wondered what had changed in regard to the plight of the Palestine refugees and the role of the Agency to cause that negative shift. The international community should be unwavering in its resolve to find a just solution to the question of Palestine in all its aspects, including to the problem of Palestine refugees, on the basis of General Assembly resolution 194 (III).
51. Palestine was, however, grateful for the international community’s commitment to UNRWA, and, in particular, for the significant support of host nations and the donor community. The resolve and will of Member States had aided Palestine in seeking a two-State solution despite the constant erosion of its viability owing to Israel’s violations, particularly its illegal settlement campaign throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The international community must continue to firmly demand the complete cessation of the illegal Israeli campaign and to demand unequivocally, as it had in the draft resolutions, that Israel, the occupying Power, should respect the rights of the Palestinian people under its occupation and of the Syrian people in the occupied Syrian Golan and that it should abide fully by its obligations under international law, including under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the human rights covenants.
52. Palestine’s appeal for support was all the more pressing in view of the instability and uncertainty that was putting the two-State solution in serious jeopardy and destabilizing the situation on the ground. The Palestinian leadership had embarked on a peaceful political initiative based on the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their historic and legitimate right to join the community of nations. Those who truly supported the cause of peace must remain consistent in their demand for full compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with all its obligations under international law, for only respect for the law would change the situation on the ground and permit the resumption and advancement of serious negotiations on all core issues, finally bringing peace, security and coexistence for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and for the Middle East as a whole.
53. Mr. Hamed (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the support for the draft resolutions adopted under agenda items 52 and 53 reflected the international community’s rejection of occupation by force and of human rights violations. The draft resolutions sent a clear message to Israel to end its occupation of all the occupied Arab territories and to cease its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. In particular, the adoption by an overwhelming majority of Member States of the resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan (A/C.4/66/L.17) confirmed that Israel’s attempts to annex the occupied Syrian Golan and to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration, and to build and expand settlements and to pursue racist practices against the Syrian people of the Golan, in a twofold violation of international law, were null and void and without international legal effect. Those measures recalled the darkest days of modern history when, at the beginning of the Second World War in Europe, a particular State had attacked and annexed parts of other countries.
54. The adoption of the draft resolutions underscored the importance of 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, and he called on all States to assist the Special Committee in bringing Israel’s crimes to light. Any attempt to undermine the Special Committee would only provide Israel with the cover it needed to pursue its practices and settlement activities in violation of human rights and international law.
55. The Syrian Arab Republic had frequently expressed its commitment to a fair and just peace, but the Israeli response to its initiatives and overtures had been to prevaricate and continue with its well-known practices in the occupied Arab territories, including the continued detention of thousands of Palestinians, 33 of them elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the maintenance of the blockade of Gaza. Likewise, settlement activities continued a pace in the West Bank, especially East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, notwithstanding international condemnation. A peace process had no chance of success if one side was working to promote it with the full support of the international community, while the other side, Israel, was doing its utmost to undermine it. What the peace process needed was an Israeli partner that was really committed to a peace based on internationally recognized principles, particularly Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Arab territories to the boundaries of 4 June 1967. It was regrettable that although everyone was now aware of that reality, some continued to make excuses for Israel’s undermining of peace.
56. The Israeli delegation had been the only one to vote against the draft resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan and all the other draft resolutions just adopted. In so doing, it had unequivocally departed from international consensus and defied the United Nations, and international law. He called on those few delegations that had abstained from voting on the draft resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan to join the international consensus and vote in favour when it went before the plenary Assembly. Any failure to condemn the Israeli occupation and annexation would only send the wrong message to those who broke the law, suggesting that the law of the jungle had now taken the place of international law and that law-breakers enjoyed impunity. He invited delegations that had voted against any of the draft resolutions to put themselves in the position of the Arab civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan for just one day in order to understand their terrible suffering at the hands of barbaric settlers whose actions would eliminate any hope of a just and comprehensive peace.
57. Mr. Keidar (Israel) said that the draft resolutions which the Committee had just adopted were too long, too one-sided and too focused on Israel when there were so many other pressing global issues on the agenda of the United Nations. The adoption of the draft resolutions would not be of much assistance to the resumption of the peace process. He joined the Observer for Palestine in stating that the goal was to resume the peace process and the negotiations; that was Israel’s goal as well.
The meeting rose at 12.10 p.m.