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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/9383
16 December 1997

GENERAL ASSEMBLY STRONGLY CONDEMNS ATTACKS
ON HUMANITARIAN WORKERS, URGES HELP OF
GOVERNMENTS TO ENSURE PROTECTION

Eighteen Texts Adopted, Assistance Sought for Many Countries;
Cooperation Between United Nations and Civil Society to be Encouraged


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In other action, the Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the United Nations to intensify assistance to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in accordance with the priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority. It also called on the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance.

It urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental, non-governmental, regional and inter-regional organizations to extend economic and social assistance to help develop the West Bank and Gaza. And Member States were urged to open their markets to exports from the West Bank and Gaza on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules.

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Assembly Work Programme

The Assembly met this morning to take action on draft resolutions on strengthening the coordination of United Nations humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, including special economic assistance. In addition to a text on strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance, it will consider texts on special economic assistance to specific countries or regions.

These specific drafts address assistance to the Palestinian people; participation of volunteers -- "White Helmets" -- in United Nations humanitarian activities; and the strengthening of international cooperation to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. The Assembly was also expected to take action on a draft resolution on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war- stricken Afghanistan.

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By the terms of a draft resolution on assistance for the reconstruction and development of Lebanon (document A/52/L.36/Rev.1), the Assembly would appeal to all Member States and the United Nations system to intensify their efforts to consider an increase of all forms of support, including financial grants and soft loans given for the reconstruction and development of Lebanon. In particular, donor countries would be asked to consider playing a full part in the consultative group to be established on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Lebanon.

The Assembly would call on all organizations and programmes of the United Nations system to support governmental requirements for national capacity-building and institutional renewal in the area of social reconstruction and development, environmental management, public services provision and support for private-sector development, and for implementing priority field-based programmes in the rehabilitation and reintegration of displaced persons and in the reconstruction and development of Baalbeck-Hermel and the south Lebanon region.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Yemen.

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By a draft resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/52/L.57/Rev.1), the Assembly would call on relevant bodies of the United Nations system to intensify their assistance in response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in accordance with the priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority. It would call on the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to meet those needs.

It would ask the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly's next session on the implementation of the present text, including an assessment of the assistance actually received by the Palestinian people, as well as on still unmet needs and specific proposals for responding effectively to them.

The Assembly would urge Member States and international financial institutions of the United Nations system, as well as intergovernmental, non-governmental, regional and interregional organizations, to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people as rapidly and generously as possible, to help develop the West Bank and Gaza. That should be done in close cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and through official Palestinian institutions. Member States would also be urged to open their markets to exports from the West Bank and Gaza on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules.

The draft is sponsored by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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Action on Drafts

JEAN-LOUIS WOLZFELD (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced two draft resolutions. First, was the draft on the safety and security of humanitarian personnel (A/52/L.45/Rev.1). He said that India and the United States had joined as co-sponsors.

He then introduced the draft resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/52/L.57/Rev.1). India, Norway and Indonesia had joined as co- sponsors of the draft.

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HICHAM HAMDAN (Lebanon), on behalf of the co-sponsors, introduced the draft resolution on assistance for the reconstruction and development of Lebanon . He said Kuwait, Djibouti and Indonesia had joined the list of co- sponsors. He said the preambular paragraphs recalled previous resolutions of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and reaffirmed the pressing need to continue to assist Lebanon's reconstruction and the recovery of its human and economic potential. The first operative paragraph appealed to all Member States and the United Nations system to support governmental requirements for national capacity-building and institutional renewal in social reconstruction and development.

He said the Secretariat had informed him the report of the Secretary-General on the agenda item was available.

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DAVID PELEG (Israel) said that for many years Israel had been cooperating fully with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as with other international organizations, in implementing programmes aimed at improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel believed that economic and social progress could be advanced only through cooperation. Economic development and improved living conditions in the territories would encourage peace and stability in the region. Assistance to the Palestinian people should be as tangible as possible, and "on the ground"; the holding of conferences and seminars could not and should not replace direct economic assistance.

He said Israel's participation in the consensus on draft resolution L.57 did not imply any position on the present status of the territories referred to as "occupied territories". Nor did it carry any implication regarding Israel's position on the permanent status of those territories in accordance with the Declaration of the Principles signed on 13 September 1993, that was a matter negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

HUSSAM-EDIN A'ALA (Syria) said his country had joined the consensus on assistance to the Palestinian people, to demonstrate its continuous support for their aspirations. The operative paragraphs of the text highlighted the immense challenges the Palestinian people had to overcome. However, he wished to reserve his Government's position on some of the preambular paragraphs which did not reflect the crisis threatening the Middle East peace process.

He said the right approach to the social and economic development of the Palestinian people required reflection on the real reasons for their current situation, such as Israel's continuous occupation of Palestinian territories and its failure to implement United Nations resolutions regarding the territories occupied since 1967. Israel must steer away from its politics of closure and economic embargo, its seizure of land in the occupied territories, and its settlement activities. Accusations by the representative of Israel did not recognize that the territories were occupied. Such statements took lightly the international community's will, as expressed in numerous United Nations resolutions. Israel's attitude also aimed to avoid the basis of the peace process launched in Madrid.

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