Question of Palestine home
3 March 1998
Summary record of the 46th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 2 December 1997, at 10 a.m.
: Mr. de Rojas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Venezuela)
Agenda item 101: Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources
Draft resolution A/C.2/52/L.6/Rev.1: Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources
said that Algeria and Mauritania had been omitted from the list of sponsors of the draft resolution and that Bahrain had also become a sponsor.
(Egypt) said that, in the second preambular paragraph of the draft resolution, in the Arabic text, the words “
at the end of the phrase should be deleted and the words “
” should be inserted after “
” at the beginning of the phrase, and the word “
should be in the plural (“
). In the English text of the same paragraph, the word “people” should be replaced by “peoples”. Since it had not been possible to reach a consensus in the informal consultations, the draft resolution would have to be put to the vote.
(Yemen) said that Brunei Darussalam had joined the sponsors of the draft resolution.
(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that his country also wished to join the sponsors of the draft resolution.
(Israel), speaking in explanation of his that the fantastic stories which Scheherezade had told to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid over 1,001 nights would be echoed within the United Nations.
26. His delegation would, of course, vote against the draft resolution for several reasons. First, in the first preambular paragraph, the sponsors had attempted to anchor the draft resolution to Security Council resolution
. That resolution had, however, been very carefully worded and, while it endorsed the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, it also stipulated that the withdrawal of Israeli forces should not prejudge the right of Israel to live within secure and recognized boundaries. The status and extent of the territories under discussion should be the subject of negotiations. With regard to the Palestinians, who did not exist as an entity in 1967, the negotiations were under way. It should also be remembered that there was an equally valid principle of international law which stated that territories taken in self-defence might be retained for as long as was necessary in order to prevent further aggression. He wondered why the draft resolution before the Committee did not give equal weight to those two principles.
27. With regard to the fourth Geneva Convention, it had been drafted in entirely different historical circumstances and was applicable only in territories which had initially been under the control of a legitimate sovereign, which was not the case with regard to the West Bank. Having said that, Israel did, in fact, apply the Convention in the territories.
28. The statement that the Israeli settlements had a detrimental impact on Palestinian natural resources was sheer nonsense. The current situation of the Palestinian resources was a result of the lack of Palestinian and Arab investment in the territories, the never-ending cycle of Palestinian terror and extremism, and the lack of political will on the part of the Palestinian Authority to impose its control over the extremist elements within its jurisdiction. It should not be forgotten that it was only since the
that the process of developing the territories, which had previously been almost entirely positive, had been reversed.
29. Despite the difficulties facing the Middle East peace process, considerable progress had been made, including the agreements with Egypt and Jordan and the two agreements with the Palestinians. The principle of “land for peace” mentioned in the last preambular paragraph was a pure figment of the Arab imagination; it did not appear in any of the documents agreed upon by the two sides. Moreover, if the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip had not been implemented, as indicated in that same paragraph, it was because the timetable for implementation had been upset by the Palestinians’ failure to carry out their undertakings concerning terrorism and the guarantees of security contained in that Agreement. Moreover, it should also be remembered that the deadline for implementation had not yet expired.
30. With regard to the operative paragraphs, it was clear that, while a people could contend that it had rights over its natural resources, it did not have inalienable rights over the resources of others. The Syrians found it convenient to forget their attempts to divert the headwaters of the Jordan so that Israel would be denied the downstream use of those waters. Riparian rights were a matter for agreement between the parties concerned and not for a declaration adopted by a committee. He wondered what Germany or the Netherlands, for example, would say if Switzerland interfered to divert the headwaters of the Rhine.
31. The inclusion of Jerusalem once again in the “occupied” Palestinian territory was merely a further attempt to create facts by way of a declaration. Jerusalem had never been the capital of an Arab State and any attempt to redivide the city could only lead to disaster. If the Palestinian people had a right to claim restitution of the territories, that right should, of course, be balanced by the right of the Jewish people to claim restitution and compensation for property abandoned by Jews living in the Arab countries and Judea and Samaria prior to 1948.
32. The draft resolution was a political resolution designed (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, to serve the interests of an observer delegation and to Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao prejudge the outcome of negotiations to the detriment of one People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Libyan Arab side, Israel. It should have no place in the Second Committee. Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The subject should be sent back to the General Assembly and Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, the Second Committee should cease to serve as an Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, unquestioning rubber stamp for such resolutions. Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand,
(United States of America) expressed his delegation’s firm opposition to draft resolution A/C.2/52/L.6/Rev.1, which presented insurmountable problems. First, it brought the General Assembly into the direct negotiations between the parties and prejudged the outcome of those negotiations. His delegation rejected the one-sided language of the draft resolution, in particular the term “sovereignty”. Second, it would continue to oppose the use of the phrase “the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem”. The references to Jerusalem were unacceptable. They had nothing to do with issues of sovereignty and inappropriately prejudged the political arrangements concerning the territories, which could only be determined in the framework of direct negotiations between the parties.
34. His delegation shared the hope, expressed in paragraph 4 of the draft resolution, that the issues would be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. It regretted that the sponsors had not taken that prescription to heart. Consequently, his delegation would vote against the draft resolution and urged other delegations to do the same.
(Jordan) noted that, contrary to what the representative of Israel had said, Scheherezade had not told the story of the Thousand and One Nights to the caliph Harun al-Hashid but to the caliph Shahriyar. That historical error gave some idea of the validity of the rest of the statement by the Israeli representative.
A recorded vote was taken on draft resolution A/C.2/52/L.6/Rev.1.
Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
Israel, United States of America.
Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Uruguay.
The draft resolution was adopted by 124 votes to 2, with 13 abstentions
(Syrian Arab Republic) said that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution, whose adoption by an overwhelming majority confirmed that the international community recognized the legitimate rights of the Arab populations and their sovereignty over their territories and their natural resources. The resolution showed that the United Nations must put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories. His delegation would have liked the resolution to make it clear that Israel was responsible for the difficulties facing the peace process. The Israeli Government had gone back on a number of its commitments made in earlier peace negotiations. His Government was prepared to resume negotiations at the point where they had become deadlocked, but Israel was continuing to evade its responsibilities and to defy the wishes of the international community which wanted to see the restoration of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The statement by the representative of Israel exemplified that country’s policy of distorting the facts.
(Japan) said that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution because his country actively supported the Middle East peace process as the only realistic way to restore peace and justice in the region. It particularly endorsed the idea expressed in paragraph 4, namely, that the issue of sovereignty must be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.
40. His delegation’s vote in no way altered its position as to the outcome of the final status negotiation. With regard to the term “permanent sovereignty” used in the title of the resolution, his delegation wished to recall that its position on the status of the so-called occupied territories remained unchanged. Japan felt that the Second Committee was not the appropriate forum for discussing issues that were purely political in nature.
(Islamic Republic of Iran) said that his delegation had voted for the draft resolution, but that its vote must not be construed as implying recognition of the State of Israel.
(Russian Federation) said that his delegation had voted for the draft resolution, although it felt that the reference made therein to Security Council resolution
was inappropriate. That did not, however, mean that his Government’s position on resolution 425 (1978) had changed.
(Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the members of the European Union had voted for the draft resolution because they believed that the natural resources of a territory that had been seized by force of arms should not be used improperly or illegally by the occupying Power. He recalled that the fourth Geneva Convention was applicable, de facto and
, to the occupied territories and that any infringement of the rights of the Palestinian people recognized by the Convention was illegal. Nevertheless, the issues raised by the resolution were a matter for the final status negotiation and the content of the resolution should not in any way prejudge the outcome of those negotiations.
(Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that his delegation had voted for the draft resolution, but that its vote did not in any way imply recognition of the occupying authorities or of what was known as Israel. He hoped that that reservation would be duly reflected.
(Observer for Palestine) said that, in his statement, the representative of Israel had once again distorted the facts and articulated an absurd logic. He wished to go back to some of the facts which the Israeli representative had presented so partially. That representative had explained that the 1967 aggression had been an act of self-defence, yet only recently General Dayal, who as Minister of Defence at the time had launched the aggression, had acknowledged that it had not been an act of self-defence. Moreover, the Israeli representative had defied the entire international community by falsifying the history of Jerusalem and claiming that the city’s annexation had been an act of self-defence and that Israel would withdraw from that territory once it was no longer under threat. That was strange logic indeed. While the peace process was facing difficulties, the Israeli Government was stepping up its settlement activity and the Israeli Prime Minister had recently threatened to annex the West Bank. That was more the kind of logic that Israel tended to apply. He reiterated that the Israeli statement was a mass of distortions and half-truths.
The meeting rose at 11.35 a.m.
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.