By traditionally wide margins, the General Assembly today adopted a series of resolutions on the situation in the Middle East, sponsored by Arab and Non-Aligned delegations, including one text reaffirming the United Nations’ permanent responsibility regarding the question of Palestine, until the question is resolved in all its aspects and in accordance with international law.
Stressing the need for realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to their independent State, the Assembly adopted, by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions, an orally amended text on the “peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,” which stressed the need for Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. (See annex IV.)
Convinced that achieving a just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine – the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict – was the key to stability in the Middle East, the Assembly welcomed the Palestinian truce initiative and its acceptance by Israel that went onto effect on 26 November, and urged both sides to maintain that truce, which could pave the way for genuine negotiations towards a just resolution to the conflict – and extend it to the West Bank.
The text emphasized the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians in the whole Middle East region, and condemned all acts of violence and terror against civilians on both sides, including the suicide bombings, the extrajudicial executions and the excessive use of force. It stressed the urgent need for “sustained and active” international involvement, including by the Quartet, to support both sides in revitalizing the peace process towards resumption and acceleration of direct negotiations between the parties to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement, in accordance with the Road Map.
Speaking after action, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations thanked those who had voted in favour of the resolution, calling the 192-member Assembly’s overwhelmingly positive response yet another indication of the massive support part of the international community towards moving forward the peace process. He hoped one Member State, in particular, had noted the response and would listen carefully to the collective voice of the international community.
On Jerusalem, the Assembly adopted a resolution reiterating its determination that any actions taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City are illegal and, therefore, null and void, and had no validity whatsoever. It did so by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions. (See annex V.)
Also, by that text, the Assembly expressed its grave concern, in particular, about the continuation of Israel’s illegal settlement activities, including the so-called “E-1 plan”, and its construction of the wall in and around East Jerusalem, and the further isolation of the city from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, “which is having a detrimental effect on the lives of Palestinians and could prejudge a final status agreement on Jerusalem.”
The resolution on the Syrian Golan was adopted by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 60 abstentions. (See annex VI.)
In addition to resuming talks with Syria and Lebanon, and respecting commitments and undertakings reached during the previous talks, the Assembly also, once again, demanded Israel’s complete withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan to the 4 June 1967 line.
Also today, the Assembly adopted three texts concerning the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights, and the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on Palestine, all by recorded votes. (See annexes I, II and III, respectively.)
Action on the Palestinian Drafts
Prior to action, The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Paul Badji ( Senegal), took the floor to explain textual revisions to the draft on Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/61/L.34/Rev.1).
The Assembly then took up the draft resolution on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/61/L.31).
The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 101 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 62 abstentions. (For details of the vote, please see annex I.)
Next, the Assembly took up the draft on the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights (document A/61/L.32), adopting the text by a recorded vote of 101 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 62 abstentions. (See annex II.)
Continuing, the Assembly took up the draft on the Special information programme on the question of Palestine within the Secretariat’s Department of Public Information (document A/61/L.33), adopting that draft by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Narau, Palau and United States), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Fiji, Malawi, Moldova, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Uganda, Vanuatu). (See annex III.)
The draft text on the Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/61/L.34/Rev.1) was next adopted, as orally amended, by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Narau, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions. (See annex IV.)
Speaking after action on those drafts, the Permanent Observer of Palestine thanked all those who had voted in their favour, saying that had been yet another indication of the massive support of the international community to move the peace process forward. He hoped one Member State would take note and listen to that massive support for those decisions.
Action on Middle East Drafts
The Assembly next turned to the draft on Jerusalem (document A/61/L.35).
The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions. (For details of the vote, please see annex V.)
Finally, the draft on the Syrian Golan (document A/61/L.36) was adopted by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 60 abstentions. (See annex VI.)
In explanation of position after action, Brazil’s representative, also on behalf of Argentina, said he had voted for the draft on the Syrian Golan because the crux of the resolution was linked to the vicissitudes of taking Territory by force. The United Nations Charter prohibited the threat of force against the integrity of a State. Israel and Syria should resume negotiations on finding a lasting solution to the Syrian Golan, in keeping with the principle of land for peace.
The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, said the resolution on the Syrian Golan reiterated that a final peace settlement would not be complete, without taking into account the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon aspects. Negotiations should be resumed as soon as possible. Her delegation had abstained, because the resolution contained references that could undermine the process of bilateral negotiations. Further, in the spirit of rationalizing the work of the General Assembly, the European Union preferred to have only one resolution dealing with the issue.
Iran’s representative said he had supported the drafts, because a durable peace was only possible through justice, the establishment of a democratic Palestinian Stateand restoration of the fundamental and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
The representative of the United States said he could not support the resolution on the Syrian Golan, since it prejudged certain status issues. His vote against it today had been rooted in the importance of dealing with individual issues responsibly. Syria continued to disregard United Nations resolutions and refused to treat Lebanon as a genuinely sovereign country.
He said that his Government was further alarmed at indications that Syria was working with Hizbollah to destabilize the Lebanese Government. Syria must reverse its destructive and destabilizing policies, as well as halt its encouragement of terrorism and support for the insurgency in Iraq. The United States’ delegation remained focused on the need to counter the Syrian regime. The Syrian people, and those across the region, deserved better.
On a point of order, Syria’s delegate said he should have been allowed to speak immediately in a point of order, according to the rules of procedure, and he regretted that he was not given the floor when he had requested it. The speaker for the United States had gone beyond the confines of the topic under discussion to turn the eyes of the world away from the important issues of concern in the Middle East.
He went on to say that the United States had not always respected the United Nations, and he urged the international community to bear in mind that the United States had stood in the way of global legitimacy 84 times by exercising its right of veto. That was done to prevent justice and the settlement of disputes from being achieved. The United States used the protection of the United Nations’ veto to protect its Israeli friends and prevent them from conforming with United Nations’ resolutions. He reminded the Assembly that Syria had been one of the United Nations’ founding States.
The United States’ speaker had just crossed the red line by intervening in Syria’s domestic affairs. He also reproached the United States for its flagrant interference in the affairs of Lebanon. The United States showed a bullying attitude, and its policies indicated a total ignorance of the Middle East. Instead of using its weight to achieve peaceful resolutions through dialogue, it used threats of invasion or occupation. Most States voted in opposition to the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan. Syria wanted its occupied Territory to be liberated, he concluded.
The Permanent Observer of Palestine also thanked those who had supported the draft on Jerusalem, adding that the resolution was a step in the right direction.
Syria’s representative took the floor again to thank the Assembly for supporting the resolutions, saying that the support had demonstrated a dedication to the principles of the Charter and to Syria’s position on rightfully retrieving its property from Israel, which the latter had held for 30 years, with United States’ support. He reiterated the appeal for a just peace and for the liberation of the Golan from occupation by Israel.
He said that pressure must be put on the party that opposed peace, namely Israel. The occupation was a major crime under international law, because it had gone beyond the Golan and to the annexation of the Golan in 1981, the same year the Assembly had adopted a resolution stating that occupation was not a valid basis for making a claim to Territory. The international community must categorically condemn the annexation and occupation, just as it denounced the annexation by Nazis of the Sudetenland and Danzig corridor in 1939. The Golan was no less important than those areas, and Israeli occupation was Nazi occupation.
Lebanon’s representative said that all people had a right to enjoy their own Territory. His Government was committed to all relevant resolutions on that issue, and a peaceful solution to the conflicts in the region would be based on the commitment of all countries to respect those resolutions. Peace in the Middle East was a goal of Arab States, and a debt of gratitude was owed to all countries that supported efforts to survive the problems created by the Israeli aggression and Lebanon’s attempts to recover its sovereignty throughout its Territory. Lebanon should be a place where all civilizations could meet.
To download the voting results click here.