Photo: Miroslav Lajvak, President of the General Assembly at the special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. UN Photo/Kim Haughton - Photo: 2017

UNGA Adopts Six Resolutions on Palestine, Middle East

By J Nastranis

UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – Seventy years since the United Nations adopted the Partition Plan for Palestine as Resolution 181 (1947) on November 29, 1947 a hectic debate in the General Assembly has reaffirmed that peace in the Middle East is nowhere on the horizon.

In fact, several delegates voiced concern that the texts of six resolutions the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted on November 30 “perpetuated a one-sided view that isolated and targeted a single Member State,” Israel. Two of the resolutions declared Israel’s actions in the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem “null and void.”

The draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) – adopted by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo) – reiterated that any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and void.

It further stressed the need for the parties to refrain from provocative actions, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, and called for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem.

“The Syrian Golan” (document A/71/L.17), adopted by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States) with 58 abstentions, declared that Israel had failed to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and demanded its withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan.

The third draft resolution, entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16), was adopted by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States) with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga).

It called for the intensification of efforts by the parties towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement, stressed the need for resumed negotiations and urged Israel to cease all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Assembly also adopted by recorded vote a series of resolutions dealing with the United Nations system’s own provision of support to the Palestinian people: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/72/L.15), the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights (document A/72/L.13) and the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine (document A/72/L.14).

Egypt highlights Israel’s two actions “null and void”

Introducing the draft resolutions titled Jerusalem (L. 11) and The Syrian Golan (L. 17), Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta said the former reaffirmed decisions by both the Assembly and the Security Council regarding occupied East Jerusalem, reflecting the fact that all of Israel’s attempts to change the character of the city were “null and void”.

It also called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites. The text had not been altered since the seventy-first session, he said, except to include a reference to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).

Referring to L.17, the Egyptian representative said the draft reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions. Emphasizing that the Geneva Conventions applied to the lands occupied by Israel, he said L.17 called on that country to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan, and urged the international community to take that situation into account as it dealt with broader challenges in the Middle East.

He called on all Member States to support both draft resolutions and help to achieve the goals enshrined in international law and on which the UN had been founded.

Syria bashes Israel supported terroristic policies

Recalling that every year the Assembly called on Israel to end its illegal and groundless occupation of Arab territories, Syrian UN Deputy Ambassador Mounzer Mounzer said the General Assembly meeting coincided with the centennial anniversary of the “sinister” and “colonial” Balfour Declaration, whose repercussions were still being felt not only by Syrians but by all people in the Middle East.

Israel’s actions were supported and indeed emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, he stressed, noting that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the Syrian Golan, he said, Israel refused to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, including the Council’s resolution 497 (1981). Instead, Israel supported terroristic policies and denied people the legitimate right to resist occupation, he said, calling for the release of all unlawfully detained persons and an immediate end to all its repressive socioeconomic policies.

Israel had also recently helped Nusrah Front to attack Syrian towns north of the separation zone, leading to civilian casualties. Reaffirming Syria’s “non-negotiable” sovereign right over the occupied Syrian Golan, he said it was no longer acceptable for the Assembly to adopt routine resolutions on the matter. Instead, he urged Member States to undertake immediate and concrete measures to compel Israel to end its occupation and called on them to vote in favour of both draft resolutions.

Israel accuses UN of fostering bias – with $6.5 million

Israeli Diplomat Hadas Meitzad, explaining her delegation’s position, said that 70 years after the Assembly had adopted resolution 181 (1947), calling for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States, some countries still refused to accept the existence of her country. While November 29 should have been a celebration of that adoption, instead, year after year, that historic date becomes an annual Israel-bashing session. “Despite the many crises facing the world, the United Nations continued to adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel,” she added.

Quoting examples from draft resolutions being considered on November 30, she said the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People spread a one-sided political narrative, supported by the United Nations Department of Political Affairs’ Division for Palestinian Rights, which had 15 paid positions.

Large portions of the division’s budget paid for business class airline tickets for participants attending anti-Israel events, using “your money” to do so, she said. The Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine also focused on anti-Israel activities and did little to promote dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, she sad.

“It was truly baffling that the United Nations spent almost $6.5 million of its budget on organizations and bodies that did nothing but try to isolate Israel,” she said, adding that “at a time of budgetary deficits, it was also unwise and wrong.”

She said two draft resolutions discussed the Temple Mount, a sacred place for all three Abrahamic religions, but had deliberately omitted any reference to the Jewish or Christian connections to the holy site. The international community must stop participating in such blatant denial of history.

The draft resolution Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/72/L.15) stated that the establishment of the State of Israel was a catastrophe, which amounted to a denial of her country’s right to exist.

On the draft resolution The Syrian Golan (document A/72/L.17), she said the situation in Syria was dire and Israel was helping thousands of injured Syrians in their hospitals, free of charge. Despite the reality on the ground, “absurdity prevailed” in the General Assembly, she said, emphasizing that the draft resolutions offered only one-sided accounts and asking delegates to vote against the drafts if they truly sought to help the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

U.S. opposes one-sided resolutions

U.S. Ambassador Richard Erdman said his delegation opposed biased, one-sided resolutions against Israel, which undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties. While Member States continued to single out Israel, the United States had voted against 18 such resolutions in 2017 so far. It was inappropriate for the United Nations – founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally – to treat one Member State so unequally.

The United States would vote against all the draft resolutions presented in the Assembly, he said, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the world body’s inherent bias against Israel. “Biased resolutions do not help advance peace”, but only distracted attention from that process, he said.

UK reiterates commitment to two-State solution

Stressing that a just and lasting solution was long overdue, the representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation was committed to continuing to work to achieve a two‑State solution. Britain had voted for balanced resolutions that called out illegal settlement activities and called on both sides to cease actions that were undermining peace efforts.

However, resolutions that undermined the United Nations authority did little to advance the peace process, he said. While his delegation had rejected the Syrian Golan resolution that Syria had tabled, it had voted in favour of a related resolution proposed by the Palestinians. The resolution proposed by Syria was unnecessary and a way to deflect attention from Syria’s slaughter of its own people.

Estonia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several key terms used in the resolutions. Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority, and the use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine, she said.

Cuba criticises Israel for violating UN decisions

Cuba’s Humberto Rivero Rosario, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced deep concern over the situation in the Middle East, which was characterized by violence, interference in internal affairs and aggression on the part of Israel. Urging Israel to immediately cease its destruction, seizure and occupation of Palestinian lands and its human rights violations, he said the Security Council must also adopt tangible measures to compel the country to do so.

Any solution to the question of Palestine would be impossible as long as Israel continued to violate international law and relevant United Nations decisions, including Council resolution 2334 (2016). It was critical to address all barriers to peace, including the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israel’s policies jeopardized the peace process. Reiterating Cuba’s policy of solidarity with the Palestinian people and its support for a sovereign, independent Palestinian State, he said the international community must not stand by as Israeli violations continued.

Russia favours unity – Kazakhstan two-State solution

Highlighting current conflicts in the Middle East and noting that critical agreements such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme remained under threat, Russia’s Vassily A. Nebenzia said his delegation was an active proponent of unity among the region’s States.

“We cannot forget that extremists use ethnic and religious aspects to spread discord,” he added. Unfortunately, the global counter-terrorism coalition, as proposed by the Russian Federation, had yet to be established. On the issue of solving the crises in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, he called for political solutions and warned against imposing remedies from abroad.

Kazakhstan’s Daulet Yemberdiyev said the two-State solution was the only viable and durable option, expressing support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and Israel’s right to security. He emphasized the need to ensure the rule of law and good governance, which would yield dividends over time. Noting that all major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – were born in the sacred land of the Middle East, he asked whether it was possible for its rich history to inspire the region to live in peace. For its part, Kazakhstan would do its utmost to ensure peace and security in the region.

“Both sides must meet each other halfway,” says China

Ambassador WU Haitao, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said addressing the question of Palestine was fundamental to peace in the Middle East. However, Israel’s persistent settlement expansion had greatly undermined the peace process. China had made a four‑point proposal, including through establishing a political process based on a two‑State solution.

He called upon Palestine and Israel to embark on a shared path to security. All settlement activities must end and Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) must immediately be implemented. The international community must intensify diplomatic efforts to bring both parties to the negotiating table.

An integrated approach that promoted peace though development was also essential, he added, noting that China had always maintained an impartial and objective view of the Middle East situation. China supported the just cause of the Palestinian people as well as the establishment of a State based on pre‑1967 borders.

“Both sides must meet each other halfway,” he said. Expressing concern that some countries in the region were trapped in “protracted turmoil” and that terrorism was spreading, he said the international community must focus on advancing a political settlement in hotspot areas. He also underscored the need to cut off terrorist financing. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 December 2017]

Photo: Miroslav Lajvak, President of the General Assembly at the special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

IDN is the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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