EU delays action on nine draft resolutions on Palestine

Left to right: Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Jean Ping (Gabon), President of the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, and Chen Jian, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, at the opening of the 59th session of the General Assembly. (UN/Evan Schneider)


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) decided this afternoon to defer action on nine draft resolutions — four relating to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and five on Israeli practices in Arab territories occupied since 1967.

It made that decision at the request of the representative of the Netherlands, acting on behalf of the European Union and associated States, and the observer for Palestine.

Indonesia’s delegate introduced the draft resolutions on assistance to Palestine refugees (document A/C.4.58/L.10); persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (document A/C.4/59/L.11); operations of UNRWA (document A/C.4/59/L.12); and Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues (document A/C.4/59/L.13).

Cuba’s representative introduced the draft on 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 (document A/C.4/59/L.14); applicability of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories (document A/C.4/59/L.15); Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/C.4/59/L.16); Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem (document A/C.4/59/L.17), and the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/C.4/59/L.18).

The introduction of the texts followed in-depth consideration of the report by UNRWA’s Commissioner-General as well as that of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices.

In requesting the postponement of action, the representative of the Netherlands said the European Union was negotiating in good faith with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to come up with texts around which the Union could rally.  Delayed by the passing of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and the need for a wider picture of the texts, negotiations were advancing steadily but the outcome was still uncertain and there was no wish to breach the trust of the parties by describing positions at the present time.  In the interest of transparency, however, the European Union invited the chairpersons of regional groups to request briefings on developments in the negotiations.

The observer for Palestine thanked those who had conveyed their condolences on the passing of President Arafat and expressed, with regard to the draft resolutions, support for the requested postponement of action in the interest of obtaining the broadest possible support for the texts.  Delegations would be kept apprised of developments.

Committee Chairman Kyaw Tint Swe (Myanmar) was among the speakers who expressed their condolences to President Arafat’s family and the Palestinian people.

In other business, the Committee adopted its programme of work and the timetable for the General Assembly’s sixtieth session.

The Fourth Committee will meet to take action on the draft resolutions, and to conclude its fifty-ninth session, on Wednesday, 24 November, at a time to be announced in the Journal.

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to hear the introduction of draft resolutions relating to the operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and to the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

By the terms of a draft resolution on assistance to Palestine refugees (document A/C.4/59/L.10), the General Assembly would decide to extend UNRWA’s mandate until June 2008.  It would note with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of its resolution 194 (III) of December 1948 and subsequent resolutions, has not yet been effected and that the situation of the Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern.  The Assembly would also note with regret that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine has been unable to find a means of achieving progress in implementing that same resolution, and would request the Commission to exert continued efforts in that regard.

Also by the text, the Assembly would affirm the necessity for the continuation of UNRWA’s work, and the importance of its operations and services for the well-being of the Palestinian people and the stability of the region, pending the resolution of the Palestine refugee question.  The Assembly would call upon all donors to continue to make the most generous efforts possible to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs, including those mentioned in recent emergency appeals.

By a draft on persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (document A/C.4/59/L.11), the Assembly would reaffirm the right of all those persons to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  Expressing its deep concern that the mechanism agreed upon by the parties (in the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements) for the return of displaced persons has not been complied with, the Assembly would stress the necessity of an accelerated return.

In the meantime, the Assembly would, by further terms of the text, endorse the Commissioner-General’s efforts to provide humanitarian assistance on an emergency basis and as a temporary measure to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continuing assistance.  It would strongly appeal to all governments, organizations and individuals to contribute generously to the Agency and to other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

A draft on Operations of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (document A/C.4/59/L.12) would have the Assembly express its appreciation to the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, as well as to all Agency staff, for their tireless efforts and valuable work, particularly in light of the increasingly difficult conditions throughout the past year.  The Assembly would also express its appreciation to the Agency’s Advisory Commission and request it to keep the General Assembly informed of its activities, including the full implementation of decision 48/417.

Further, the Assembly would take note with appreciation of the report of the Working Group on the Financing of UNWRA for its efforts to assist in ensuring the Agency’s financial security.  It would commend the continuing efforts of the Commissioner-General to increase the budgetary transparency and efficiency of the Agency.  It would also acknowledge the support of the host governments for the Agency, and welcome the convening, in June 2004, of the Geneva conference by the Agency and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to increase support for UNRWA.

The Assembly would, by other terms, express concern about the temporary relocation of UNRWA’s headquarters international staff from Gaza City and the disruption of operations at the headquarters.  It would call upon Israel to comply fully with the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention on protection of civilians in time of war.  The Assembly would also urge the Government of Israel to speedily compensate the Agency for damage to its property, and also call upon Israel to cease obstructing the movement of UNRWA personnel, vehicles and supplies, and to cease the levying of extra fees and charges.

By other terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon Israel to abide by Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the United Nations Charter, and by the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, in order to ensure the safety of UNRWA personnel, the protection of its institutions and the security of its facilities in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Further, the Assembly would request the UNRWA Commissioner-General to proceed with the issuance of identification cards for Palestine refugees and their descendants in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Affirming that the functioning of the Agency remains essential in all fields of operation, the Assembly would note the success of UNRWA’s microfinance and microenterprise programmes, and call upon the Agency, in close cooperation with the relevant agencies, to continue to contribute towards the development of the economic and social stability of the Palestine refugees in all fields of operation.

By further terms, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Commissioner-General to proceed with the modernization of UNRWA’S archives through the Palestine Refugee Records Project.  In addition, the Assembly would reiterate its previous appeals to all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to continue to augment the special allocations for grants and scholarships for higher education to Palestine refugees, in addition to their contributions to the Agency’s regular budget, and to contribute towards the establishment of vocational training centres for Palestine refugees.  It would request the Agency to act as the recipient and trustee for the special allocations for grants and scholarships.

The Assembly would urge all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to continue and increase their contributions to the Agency so as to ease the ongoing financial constraints, exacerbated by the current humanitarian situation on the ground, and to support its valuable work in assistance to the Palestine refugees.

A draft resolution on Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues (document A/C.4/59/L.13) would have the Assembly reaffirm that the Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of equity and justice.

By other terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to take all appropriate steps, in consultation with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, for the protection of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel, and call, once again, on Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary-General in the implementation of the present resolution.

Further by the text, the Assembly would call upon all the parties concerned to provide the Secretary-General with any pertinent information in their possession concerning Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel that would assist him in the implementation of the present resolution.  It would urge the Palestinian and Israeli sides to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues in the framework of the final status negotiations of the Middle East peace process.

The Committee had before it five draft resolutions relating to the report of the Special Committee on Israeli practices.  By a draft on 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 (document A/C.4/59/L.14), the Assembly would reiterate its demand that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee.

By other terms, the Assembly would deplore those policies and practices of Israel that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, as reflected in the Special Committee’s report.  It would express grave concern about the continuing crisis situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000, as a result of Israeli practices and measures, and especially condemn the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population, including extrajudicial executions, which has resulted in more than 3,400 Palestinian deaths, including more than 750 children, and tens of thousands of injuries.

The Assembly would, by further terms, request the Special Committee, pending complete termination of the Israeli occupation, to continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, especially Israeli violations of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949.  The Special Committee would also be requested to consult with the International Committee of the Red Cross in order to ensure that the welfare and human rights of the peoples of the occupied territories are safeguarded.

By other terms, the Assembly would request the Special Committee to submit periodic reports to the Secretary-General on the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.  It would further request the Special Committee to continue to investigate the treatment of prisoners and detainees in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on applicability of the Geneva Convention (document A/C.4/59/L.15).  By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that the Geneva Convention is applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and demand that Israel comply scrupulously with the provisions of that Convention.  It would call upon all High Contracting Parties to the Convention to continue to exert all efforts to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel in the occupied territories.  The Assembly would also reiterate the need for speedy implementation of the relevant recommendations contained in its resolutions of its tenth emergency session, including resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004.

Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/C.4/59/L.16), by which the General Assembly would reaffirm that those settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development.  It would also call upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to those occupied territories, and to abide scrupulously by the provision of the Convention, in particular article 49.

Further by the text, the Assembly would reiterate its demand for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, and call for the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.  It would also reiterate its demand that Israel comply with its legal obligations under international law, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice and as demanded by the General Assembly in its resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004.

By other terms, the Assembly would stress the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 904 (1994), in which, among other things, the Council called upon Israel to continue to take and implement measures, including confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and called for measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians in the occupied territory.  The Assembly would reiterate its calls for the prevention of all acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and property, particularly in light of recent developments.

The Committee also had before it a draft resolution regarding Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied Palestinian territories (document A/C.4/59/L.17).  By its terms, the Assembly would determine that all measures and actions taken by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in wartime, and contrary to the relevant Security Council resolutions, are illegal and have no validity.  The Assembly would demand that Israel comply fully with the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention and cease immediately all measures and actions taken in violation and in grave breach of the Convention, including extrajudicial executions.

Further, the Assembly would demand that Israel cease all practices and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and that it scrupulously abide by its obligations under human rights law.  It would also demand that Israel comply with its legal obligations as mentioned in the Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004 rendered by the International Court of Justice and as demanded in resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004, by, among other actions, dismantling the wall and making compensation for damage caused by its construction.  It would also stress the need to preserve the territorial integrity of all the occupied Palestinian territory and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods within that territory, including the removal of restrictions on movement into and from East Jerusalem, and the freedom of movement to and from the outside world.

A further provision of the text would have the Assembly condemn all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction, especially the excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians, resulting in extensive loss of life, vast numbers of injuries and massive destruction of homes, properties, agricultural lands and vital infrastructure.  The Assembly would also condemn the events that occurred in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002, the Rafah refugee camp in May 2004 and the Jabaliya refugee camp in October 2004, which led to extensive loss of life, injury, widespread destruction, and the displacement and dispossession of Palestinian civilians.

By a draft on the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/C.4/59/L.18), the Assembly would call upon Israel to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981), in which the Council decided that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect, and demanded that Israel rescind its decision.

The Assembly would also call upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and to desist from the establishment of settlements.  It would determine that all legislative and administrative measures and actions by Israel that purport to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention, and have no legal effect.

Also by the text, the Assembly would call upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and from its repressive measures against the population.  It would also deplore Israel’s violations of the Geneva Convention and call, once again, upon Member States not to recognize any of the legislative or administrative measures referred to in the present draft resolution.

Related Links

  • Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)