Adopting 5 Middle East Texts, General Assembly Calls for Credible Talks on Final Status Issues, Israel to Cease Actions Aimed at Altering Occupied Palestinian Territory
The General Assembly adopted five resolutions today, four by recorded vote, on the questions of Palestine and the Middle East, including a text that called on Israel to cease all actions contrary to international law that are aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Through the terms of the resolution titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, the Assembly called for an immediate halt to all settlement activities, land confiscation and home demolitions, for the release of prisoners and for an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions. It also stressed the need to urgently exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues and for intensified efforts by the parties towards a just, lasting peace in the Middle East based on relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), the Madrid terms of reference, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet road map.
By the text titled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat”, the Assembly requested the Division to dedicate its activities in 2023 to the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba, including by organizing a high-level event at the General Assembly Hall on 15 May 2023.
By a resolution titled “The Syrian Golan”, the Assembly declared that the Israeli decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws and jurisdiction on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void and has no validity and called upon Israel to rescind it.
The Assembly also adopted drafts titled “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” and “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Global Communications of the Secretariat”. By the terms of the latter text, the Assembly condemned the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and welcomed the decision of the United Nations to honour her legacy by renaming a training programme to “Shireen Abu Akleh Training Programme for Palestinian Broadcasters and Journalists”.
As the floor opened for debate, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said that Israeli exceptionalism has only emboldened Israel’s worst instincts. Today the Assembly will finally acknowledge the historical injustice that befell the Palestinian people, adopting a resolution that decides to commemorate in the Assembly Hall the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba. There is no two-State solution without a sovereign and independent State of Palestine based on the pre‑1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Anybody serious about the two-State solution must help salvage the Palestinian State and recognize it now without further delay, he said, stressing that justice in Palestine would mean that the international law-based order has triumphed over impunity and double standards.
Israel’s delegate said that the resolutions’ sole purpose is to blame everything in the Middle East solely on Israel. “This conflict, like any conflict, can be solved in one way, and one way only, with both sides sitting down at the negotiating table,” he continued. Yet every time peace proposals are put forward, the Palestinians refuse to budge one inch from their position, which would entail the destruction of the Jewish State. Palestinian leadership will not compromise on any demands if every United Nations resolution is supported. It was 75 years ago that the Assembly voted on resolution 181, through which the international community voiced its support for a Jewish State, only for five Arab armies to respond by trying to destroy and annihilate Israel, he recalled.
Egypt’s delegate said that, considering current tensions, the situation could explode at any moment. “A sense of duty should compel all of us” to recognize that there could be no other solution to the Palestinian cause aside from one that is focused on United Nations resolutions, a two-State solution and the Arab Peace Initiative, he added.
The representative of the United States voiced concern that 2022 has been the most violent year in the West Bank since 2004, with 150 Palestinians and 29 Israelis killed. Though sustainable peace seems impossible, the international community must take steps to stabilize the situation. But instead, “we are engaged in the annual UN ritual of rubber-stamping outdated and ineffective resolutions that purport to advance the cause for the Palestinian people but instead reveal a profound anti-Israel bias”, he said.
Several delegates throughout the debate expressed support for the humanitarian work conducted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and also stressed the need to close its funding gap.
Also speaking today were representatives of Senegal, India, Mexico, Kuwait, Qatar, Namibia, China, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Japan, Colombia, Morocco, Indonesia, South Africa, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Tunisia, Guyana, Oman, Norway, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bolivia, Cuba, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Viet Nam, Iraq, Lebanon, Venezuela, Sovereign Order of Malta, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Slovenia, Australia and Argentina, as well as the European Union.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 1 December, for a debate on sport for development and peace.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, said that there are nearly 6 million Palestine refugees registered under the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). But UNRWA’s success is also a reminder that the international community has “come up short” on finding a more sustainable solution. The only reasonable way forward is through direct dialogue, talks in good faith, respect for United Nations resolutions, and building on previous agreements. “This conflict has placed a staggering burden on both parties for a century,” he said. “For four generations it has caused immense suffering for Arabs and Jews, for Palestinians and Israelis.”
Countless innocent people on both sides have lost their lives to bullets and explosives, bombs and missiles, he continued, also adding: “We know from experience that nothing drives violence more than despair.” Young people must have a reason for hope. He urged Member States to pave the way for restoring the path towards a two-State solution and appealed to all sides to seek negotiated outcomes that are based on the United Nations Charter, international law and respect for human rights. At stake is not only peace in the region, but also global confidence that the United Nations has what it takes to meet this challenge. Further he urged Member States to address UNRWA’s funding gap of over $600 million.
Question of Palestine
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced its annual report (document A/77/35), noting that it contains developments relating to the question of Palestine between 1 September 2021 and 31 August 2022. The first two chapters provide a brief overview of the major political developments and Chapters III and IV outline the Committee’s mandate and its organization of work, he noted. Chapter V features the Committee’s work and activities on the mobilization of the diplomatic community; awareness raising; cooperation with intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and United Nations entities; and capacity building. Chapter VI reports on the activities of the special information programme of the Department of Global Communications whereas the final chapter contains the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.
Highlighting some of these, he said the Committee laments the lack of accountability for illegal Israeli actions; calls on leaders to reject violence, speak up against those who try to inflame the situation and refrain from actions that fuel tensions; urges Israel to conduct prompt, independent, and impartial investigations into all incidents, including the killing of the Palestinian Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh; and calls on that country to uphold its obligations under law and respect the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem. The Committee also urges the Secretary-General to continue to leverage his good offices, the Security Council to secure the implementation of its resolutions including sanctions and international organizations to take a more politically active role in stopping the annexation and mediating an end to the conflict. As there must be an international protection mechanism for Palestinian civilians, the United Nations and international community must remain focused on the question of Palestine.
Israel’s blockade of Gaza must be lifted, he continued before condemning that country’s designation of six non-governmental organizations as terrorist organizations. For their part, relevant States must reconsider their decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and withdraw embassies from the city. Member States must support UNRWA financially, provide support for the State of Palestine Government’s fiscal stability and institutions and ensure efforts to stabilize conditions on the ground are linked to a credible political framework.
He then introduced four draft resolutions: “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/77/L.23), “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” (document A/77/L.24), “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Global Communications of the Secretariat” (document A/77/L.25) and “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/77/L.26). He said that the texts concerning the Committee, the Division and the Special Information Programme will be tabled only as needed in the future since specific timeframes have been removed from the text.
“L.23”, he said, requests the Committee to mobilize international solidarity and support for the Palestinian people as well as for restoring a political horizon and advancing a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. It also invites all governments and organizations to extend their cooperation to the Committee. “L.24” renews the mandate for the Division and requests it to dedicate its activities in 2023 to the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Nakba. “L.25” renews the mandate of the Special Information Programme, condemns the killing of Ms. Akleh and calls for accountability. “L.26” reaffirms and updates the consensus positions of the international community while reiterating the fundamental principles which should govern the peaceful settlement of the conflict. All Member States should vote in favour, he encouraged.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, State of Palestine, said today the General Assembly will finally acknowledge the historical injustice that befell the Palestinian people, adopting a resolution that decides to commemorate in the Assembly Hall the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba. The people of Palestine deserve recognition of their plight, justice for the victims, reparation for their loss, and fulfilment of their rights. 2022 has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the Second Intifada, he said, stressing: “There is nowhere safe in Palestine, nowhere. There is no one safe in Palestine, no one.” The right to security belongs to the people under occupation, not to those occupying them.
He called once again on the international community to provide the Palestinian people with the protection they are entitled to. Every country hopes to see the occupation end and peace prevail, but existing policies have effectively shielded and emboldened Israel to such a point that the world is witnessing the formation of the most colonial, racist and extremist Government in that country’s history, he said. Some countries keep denouncing what they refer to as “singling out Israel”, but what truly singles out Israel is not the amount of criticism legitimately directed against its crimes and violations, but the level of impunity it enjoys despite these condemnations. Israeli exceptionalism has only emboldened Israel’s worst instincts. That is not defending Israel; it is shielding its illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian land.
This is the end of the road for the two-State solution, he stressed. Either the international community summons the will to act decisively, or it will let peace die passively. There is no two-State solution without a sovereign and independent State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Anybody serious about the two-State solution must help salvage the Palestinian State and recognize it now without further delay, supporting its sovereignty, warning that the alternative is a regime that has combined the evils of colonialism and Apartheid. To this day, the Palestinian people have borne the brunt of the human and economic cost of the occupation, he said, noting that the economic cost in the West Bank alone has totalled $58 billion since 2000, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The only way to end the Israeli occupation is by ending impunity, he said. Justice in Palestine would mean that the international law-based order has triumphed over impunity and double standards, and that freedom, peaceful settlement and coexistence have triumphed over oppression and discrimination. No one should obstruct international courts, including the International Court of Justice, from delivering justice instead of stopping the criminals from committing their crimes, he stressed. The problem is not resorting to the Courts seeking guidance and justice; it is obstructing them and allowing continued injustice. The international community told Israel it had to choose between settlements and a peaceful settlement, as the two are incompatible. Israel made a choice a long time ago and has persisted in that choice. The only question that remains is what the world will do to ensure Israel reverses that decision and adopts the right one, he said.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) emphasized that only a negotiated two-State solution, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine and considering Israel’s legitimate security concerns, can deliver lasting peace. She reiterated the need for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations between the parties on all final status issues. The absence of such negotiations and the lack of a clear political horizon for the peaceful resolution of the conflict has consequences for both Israel and Palestine. It risks the recurrence of a cycle of violence, which will only increase the number of civilian casualties on both sides. All parties must also protect civilians, especially women and children. She urged the parties to cease violence and avoid unilateral actions on the ground, which undercut the viability of the two-State solution. This will also help bridge the trust deficit between the parties, she stressed.
GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico), stressing the importance of a two-State Solution, said it addresses Israel’s security concerns and will help consolidate an economically and politically viable Palestinian State. While the two parties are responsible for relaunching the peace process, it is the responsibility of the international community to foster that process in order to guarantee a just and sustainable peace in the region, he said, commending multilateral initiatives underway towards this. Calling on the Palestinian National Authority to hold elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he expressed support for the request of a new advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. Condemning the attacks from Gaza against Israel as well as the recurrent use of lethal munitions against civilians, he highlighted his country’s contribution to UNRWA, and added that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab countries shows that there are opportunities for mutual understanding.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said that the Palestinian cause is currently confronted with many challenges as he also warned against Israeli violations, including attacks against civilians, destruction of Palestinian houses and infrastructure, and the ongoing siege of Gaza. “A sense of duty should compel all of us” to recognize that there could be no other solution to the Palestinian cause aside from one that is focused on United Nations resolutions, a two-State solution and the Arab Peace Initiative, he said. Considering current tensions, the situation could explode at any moment, he also warned, reiterating the need to have a political solution on the horizon. That would, however, require the cessation of hostilities and a major improvement of the situation on the ground. He further urged Member States to continue to support UNRWA. The only solution that paves the way to peace and security requires the recognition of legitimate Palestinian rights, he stressed.
TAREQ M. A. M. ALBANAI(Kuwait) said the disease of occupation has fought; killed; displaced; divided; destroyed families, homes and the environment; and refused to respect international resolutions. “It is high time we treat this disease with the right medication,” he said while asking the Assembly: “Why is Israel, the occupying power, allowed to systematically perpetuate criminal violations without any accountability as if it is above the law? Until when will we remain silent as the Palestinian people are deprived of their legitimate rights as if they are an exception to the rules of international law?” The continued inability of the international community to hold Israel account is the worst failure of the Organization and in particular the Council; it is the biggest disgrace for humanity, he underscored. The international community must urgently provide protection to the Palestinian people; the Council must shoulder its responsibility; and countries must recognize the State of Palestine as a country, he urged. Turning to UNRWA, he commended it as a main success of the Organization and called on the international community to continue to provide its support.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) reiterated her commitment to solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just struggle to regain their rights and holy shrines and enjoy the support of all principles of humanity. This includes the right to self-determination and the establishment of a sustainable, viable, independent Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 borders. Implementation of resolutions calling for the end of Israel’s occupation of all occupied territories is the only path to achieve a sustainable peace and settlement to the Palestinian question. She supported the Committee’s efforts to conduct investigations in a transparent way into the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh of Al-Jazeera. This crime is a blatant violation of international law and a grave encroachment on the freedom of the press. The Qatari Government has upheld its responsibility to help the Palestinian people. It has provided electrical supplies, given financial aid to families and created opportunities for employment and education; renovated housing and infrastructure; and supported agriculture and health services. The signing of the Declaration of Algiers by Palestinian factions is a positive step towards Palestinian unity and an independent Palestinian State. She stressed the importance of implementing Assembly resolutions on the question of Palestine.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) said that ten years since the State of Palestine was granted observer status to the United Nations, the two-State solution still has not made much progress. Highlighting the persistent escalation of violence meted against the Palestinian people by Israel, he condemned the inhumane killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and the subsequent desecration of her funeral parade. It is befitting to honour her legacy by renaming the Organization’s training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists as the Shireen Abu Akleh Training Programme, he added. Noting that it has been 20 years since the Assembly last asked the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion regarding the Palestine question, he expressed support for the decision to once again resort to seeking guidance from the international legal system on how best to seek recourse for the long-oppressed people of Palestine.
GENG SHUANG (China) highlighted the volatile situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with increasing civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. The peace and tranquillity of the holy sites in Jerusalem have been repeatedly shattered. Stressing that piecemeal crisis management cannot replace a comprehensive solution, he called for effective diplomatic action, including from the Security Council. “China is a sincere friend of the Palestinian people,” he said, adding that Israel and Palestine are inseparable neighbours with interdependent security needs. Expressing concern about Israel’s settlement activities in violation of international law and the appropriation of Palestinian resources, he said the Council needs to take substantive steps to advance the two-State solution. No one has the right to veto on issues that affect the future of the Palestinian people, he said, adding that as a permanent member of that body, his country will work to practise genuine multilateralism.
SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia) condemned Israel’s continual defiance of Security Council resolutions, deploring also that the world decides which human rights violations are worth addressing. Detailing crimes such as forced evictions and annexation, he condemned Israeli systemic oppression as Apartheid. He noted that 2022 was the bloodiest year in the occupied West Bank since 2005, expressing concern that violations will continue to intensify. He called on Member States to denounce the illegal Israeli actions, adding: “The endless cycle of impunity must end, and the perpetrators must face justice.” Noting the Security Council’s responsibility to ensure implementation of relevant resolutions, including 904 (1994) and 2334 (2016), he called on the Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the acquisition of the Palestinian territory by force, as well as support for UNRWA’s work with refugees. Reiterating Malaysia’s continued support for Palestinian self-determination, he stressed the need for full United Nations membership for the State of Palestine. He then welcomed the 2022 Declaration of Algiers and the commitment by all Palestinian parties towards reconciliation and called for a two-State solution based on pre‑1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
LAUZA ALI (Maldives) stressed that the Palestinian people must not be left behind. The international community must do more to end the unlawful and illegal blockade of Gaza, end all illegal activities in Gaza, assist the Palestinian people and ensure their human rights are realized. Despite decades of efforts by the international community, the Palestinian people have yet to see justice and have become stateless in their own lands. She called on Member States to support the inalienable rights of Palestinians and recognize the State of Palestine as a full Member State of the Organization. Turning to the tireless work, commitment and determination of UNRWA in providing humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in the Near East, she voiced her deep concern over funding difficulties and their lasting impact on refugees. The international community must provide further funding for the Agency, she encouraged before reiterating her country’s support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine based on pre‑1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan) said that Israel’s unilateral actions, including illegal settlements, demolitions and evictions, are grave violations of international human rights law which are hampering hopes for peace. “The international community is obliged morally and legally to bring this deplorable situation to an end,” he said, adding that political and financial support for UNRWA is just one way to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. He expressed support for a peaceful solution through negotiations leading to the realization of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and called for the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state along the pre‑1967 borders and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO(Japan) said that a truly peaceful resolution can be achieved not through violence, but through dialogue based on mutual trust. Expansion of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, is a violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. Japan calls on Israel to immediately halt settlement activities, which undermine the viability of a two-State solution. The holding of legislative and presidential elections in Palestine is also a crucial step towards Palestinian unity, he added. Noting Japan’s support for UNRWA over the years, he commended the Agency for helping to alleviate humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip. The voices of the Palestinian people must not be lost, he said, adding that as an incoming member of the Security Council, Japan will remain committed to actively engaging with the international community to achieve peace in the Middle East.
SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) reaffirmed her country’s support for achieving a peaceful, definitive and comprehensive settlement based on a two-State solution in accordance with the relevant Assembly and Council resolutions. Confidence-building measures are necessary, she underscored, as is advocacy for the full respect for the rights of all people. Encouraging parties to redouble their efforts to prevent future hostilities in the Middle East, she called for a definitive solution to the causes of the conflict. Colombia supports the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to an independent and sustainable State which is recognized by all other States, she said before reiterating her country’s support for Israel to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), calling for just solutions to ensure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to establish a sovereign State, said that the absence of a political horizon has paved the way for extreme conflicts that spread hatred and violence. He stressed the need to protect al-Quds al-Sharif as a cradle of civilization for all religions and as a symbol of respect and mutual trust. Violating that city and the Al-Aqsa Mosque will jeopardize opportunities for Middle East peace and security. The King of Morocco is personally working on a mechanism to establish health, educational, residential and social programmes for Jerusalem, which is highly appreciated by Palestinians. He also called upon the Palestinians to build strong institutions, under the leadership of the President of Palestine, to achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people to freedom and independence.
GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) said the Assembly will soon be voting on several resolutions whose sole purpose is to blame everything in the Middle East solely on Israel while absolving the Palestinians of their responsibility for their situation. Year after year, all such distorted resolutions pass, ensuring that the conflict never ends. This does not help the Palestinian people, but rather turns the United Nations and Member States into accomplices in a Palestinian jihad war that destroys any chances for reconciliation. “This conflict, like any conflict, can be solved in one way, and one way only, with both sides sitting down at the negotiating table and – surprise, surprise - both sides making mutual concessions.” Yet every time peace proposals are put forward, the Palestinians reject them, refusing to negotiate or to budge one inch from their position, which would entail the destruction of the Jewish State. Due to the automatic support of the United Nations, they are allowed to continue along this destructive path, he said.
The Palestinian leadership will not compromise on any demands if every United Nations resolution is supported, he said, adding that the time to stop the madness is today. Within these resolutions, the Palestinians have planted a clause showing their twisted vision of truth to all, namely, a request to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the establishment of Israel with a high-level event in the Assembly chamber. It was 75 years ago that the Assembly voted on resolution 181, through which the international community voiced its support for a Jewish State, only for five Arab armies to respond by trying to destroy and annihilate Israel, he recalled. He urged delegations to stop supporting the Palestinians’ libels and to stop voting in favour of these dangerous fabrications.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) said that in the absence of a political solution, States must continue to support the Palestinian people and provide UNRWA with sustainable and predicable funding. Further, the international community must end the sense of impunity and hold the occupying Power accountable. Increasing violence, human rights violations and segregation towards the Palestinian people amounts to an apartheid policy that must be put to an end. Calling for a complete lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, he added that a request for the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion towards the legal consequences of the ongoing occupation must be supported. He went on to urge a paradigm shift to revive the peace process, including credible multilateral negotiations based on the two-State solution, as well safeguarding the status quo of the holy sites.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) said that it is plain to see where the root of the conflict stems from. “The continuation of the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, expulsions, demolitions and destroying of Palestinian properties throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory is a brazen and illegal tactic by Israel to alter the demographic balance, character, and status of East Jerusalem in favour of a Jewish majority.” Israel’s imposition of an apartheid system through policies which deprive the Palestinians debilitates any prospects for an independent Palestinian State. South Africa supports the request for the International Court of Justice to urgently render an advisory opinion, she said, stressing the need for revitalized international action amid mounting violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in East Jerusalem.
ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), reiterating his country’s support for an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, recalled that 70 years of meetings and countless resolutions have failed to ensure respect for the rights of the Palestinian people. Expressing concern about ongoing violence, he also highlighted deteriorating conditions in Gaza as well as ongoing illegal settlement activity and destruction of property. He called on all parties to avoid further escalation and to take steps toward peace and security, which are important for both the region and internationally. He went on to commend UNRWA’s efforts, which is building a foundation of hope for the Palestinians.
ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, renewing his country’s principal position and support for the legitimate struggle to end occupation. Reiterating that peace cannot prevail without the return of Palestinian rights, he stressed that the time has come for the Palestinian people to fully regain their rights. He expressed his satisfaction with the success of the Reunification Conference to Achieve Palestinian National Unity, which took place in Algiers. In light of the economic difficulties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he encouraged all regional and international parties to increase the level of humanitarian response. He also praised CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKET (Guyana) said it is deeply regretful that during the reporting period the realization of the two-State solution, notwithstanding the prevailing international consensus, failed to advance. Guyana, like most countries, strongly believes the only viable way forward to resolve the question of Palestine is through constructive dialogue and a negotiated two-State solution, she said. The stalled peace process and lack of new initiatives to advance the Palestinian people’s quest for self-determination is disappointing. She underscored the immediate need to reverse the substantial economic and social costs of the imposed occupation against the Palestinian people and called on the international community to increase, and collectively exert, all efforts to end it. Her delegation reaffirms its recognition of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign State, based on its pre‑1967 borders, and underscores the urgency of having an independent State of Palestine peacefully coexist alongside the State of Israel. As a member of the Committee since 1975 and one of the first Caribbean countries to support the Committee’s mandate, her delegation pledged its unwavering commitment to implementing the recommendations in the Committee’s report.
HARIB ALSAID (Oman) said that the practices by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are illegal. He called on the international community to compel the Israeli occupation forces to respect international law and remind them of their responsibility not to subject the Palestinian people to such practices. He further called on the international community to respond positively to repeated calls to provide protection to Palestinian people living under the occupation, stressing that when the international community does not shoulder its responsibilities, Israel becomes more extreme in its abuse of the Palestinian people. He called on Israel to immediately cease its colonization, which seeks to change the demographic nature of the Palestinian territories. Such practices are baseless and violate international law. Oman supports the Palestinian people’s human right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State with East Jerusalem as the capital, he said.
ODD INGE KVALHEIM (Norway), describing the tense situation in the West Bank as a symptom of the lack of a political horizon and fundamental rights, stressed the negative impacts of a stalled peace process. New and reinforced measures are needed to reduce tensions on the ground in the West Bank, stabilize the volatile ceasefire in Gaza and strengthen the Palestinian Authority. He called on the incoming Israeli Government to reverse negative trends of increased settlement expansion, house demolitions, evictions and settler violence. Moreover, Israel must engage with the Palestinian leadership and revise its policies and actions that weaken the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian economy. For its part, Palestinian leadership must continue to implement planned reforms, and factions must redouble efforts to achieve political and administrative unity. Countries that have improved their relationships with Israel must ensure that their new cooperation also involves and benefits the Palestinian people, he urged. He then voiced his concern over UNRWA’s persistent lack of funding and the reduction in foreign assistance to Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh) reaffirmed his delegation’s long-standing position and noted it has co-sponsored all four resolutions on this agenda item and looks forward to their successful adoption. He also reaffirmed Bangladesh’s unwavering support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian State based on a two-State solution along pre-1967 borders. The international community is regrettably witnessing the continuing illegal occupation and aggressive activities against Palestinian people by the Israeli occupying forces. Reported calls by the international community and numerous resolutions in the Assembly and Security Council are being ignored and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue, he said, noting that this makes the situation perilous. There is no just solution. He appreciated the Committee’s work and its progress in 2022, such as mobilizing the diplomatic community, working with the United Nations system and building the State of Palestine’s capacity. He commended the work of the Department of Global Communications and its special information programme on the question of Palestine. He supported the Committee’s efforts to conduct impartial investigations into all incidents regarding excessive use of force and loss of life, including the killing of Palestinian Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Israel must respect the status quo at the holy sites, he stressed.
MOHAMMED ABDULAZIZ H. ALATEEK (Saudi Arabia), calling on the international community to summon the political will to put an end of the suffering of the Palestinian people, said that the Arab Peace Initiative provides a roadmap for achieving the two-State solution. Israel must respect the Organization’s resolutions and put an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan. The continued construction of settlements is a clear violation of international laws, he said, condemning all plans to confiscate Palestinian lands and erase the religious identity of Haram al-Sharif and al-Quds al-Sharif. The colonialist expansion by Israeli authorities will destroy any chance at peaceful coexistence, he cautioned, calling for the resumption of negotiations, and reaffirming his country’s historic support for the Palestinian people, in its foreign policy and as a top donor country to UNRWA.
ANDREW WEINSTEIN (United States) emphasized that his country is deeply committed to a two-State solution and that it is focused on supporting the parties on the ground as well as working with the Palestinian people to build confidence through constructive negotiations. He voiced concern, however, that 2022 has been the most violent year in the West Bank since 2004, with 150 Palestinians and 29 Israelis killed. Though sustainable peace seems impossible, the international community must take steps to stabilize the situation and end the conflict. But instead, “we are engaged in the annual UN ritual of rubber-stamping outdated and ineffective resolutions that purport to advance the cause for the Palestinian people but instead reveal a profound anti-Israel bias”. Resolutions are not a substitute for peace, he said, asking the Assembly to instead focus on supporting both parties and the broader shifts under way in the region. He condemned open-ended mandates as irresponsible and offering false hope of a short cut to Palestinian statehood and reaffirmed his delegation’s resolve to oppose all one-sided resolutions that denigrate Israel. He also called on the Assembly to work towards practical solutions to the conflict.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) expressed concern over the continuation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the West Bank. He highlighted the need to stop all illegitimate practices in the Territory, primarily the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian land and property, as well as the expansion of settlements. Further, he stressed the need to preserve the legal and historical status quo in Jerusalem, and to respect Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s custodianship over the holy sites. Reaffirming his Government’s support for the Palestinian people to alleviate their exacerbated humanitarian conditions, he recalled that last month, the United Arab Emirates signed a cooperation agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to support Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem with $25 million for medicine, supplies, and medical equipment. He also commended the efforts of UNRWA which plays a key role in alleviating the suffering of 5 million Palestinian refugees in the region.
DIEGO PARY RODRIGUEZ (Bolivia) said this year the international community has once again witnessed the loss of lives of innocent people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. An exhaustive international independent investigation must take place into the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and the authorities must be held to account for the constant violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Israel continues its settlement building, demolition of Palestinian homes, forced displacements of hundreds of civilians and blockade of Gaza. The intensity of these human rights violations and Israel’s crimes must not go unpunished, he stressed. He pointed to the economic cost of the occupation for the Palestinian people, including various forms of controls and restrictions limiting economic development. The question of Palestine can be resolved through effective, transparent and good-faith dialogue, he stressed. Bolivia supports the achievement of a broad, just and lasting solution on the basis of international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations according to a two-State solution.
ROSA AMELIA GUERRA TAMAYO (Cuba) said that the Security Council must take concrete steps to end the historic injustice vis-à-vis the Palestinians. She called for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the occupation of the Syrian Golan. In a message of solidarity with the Palestinian people on 29 November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba underscored that abuses and violations against the Palestinian people cannot go unpunished. The Minister also condemned the illegal construction and expansion of Israeli settlements, including the demolition and confiscation of the Palestinian property. She went on to reiterate that Cuba would continue supporting the entry of Palestine as a full Member of the United Nations.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said the international community must scale up efforts carried out to reach a solution to the question of Palestine that is just, peaceful, comprehensive and lasting for the Palestinian people. He reiterated his country’s principled position regarding peaceful coexistence and its support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to independence and reparations for Palestinian refugees. He further expressed support for a two-State solution within the 1967 borders, in line with relevant international resolutions. Adding that Bahrain has been and remains one of the greatest supporters of the Palestinian people, he said it continues to provide humanitarian aid and support to UNRWA and the Palestinian economy - a just cause that is “essential within the Islamic and Arab world”. He called on the international community to scale up efforts to advance the peace process towards the creation of an independent Palestinian State, with a strategic path to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.
MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria) said that the international community should redouble its efforts to provide more political and material support to the people of Palestine. Expressing his full support for the State of Palestine becoming a fully-fledged Member of the United Nations, he urged a return to peaceful settlement procedures as well as a return to the political process. He recalled Algeria’s efforts to unify Palestinian stakeholders by hosting a reconciliation dialogue between different Palestinian factions, which led to the Algiers Declaration. All Arab States, as well as the League of Arab States, supported this process and created a High Committee to ensure the implementation of the Declaration, he noted.
MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH HMOUD (Jordan) supported the aspirations of the Palestinian people to their independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinian question is the key to peace and stability in the Middle East, he said, noting that Jordan will continue to draw the world’s attention to the cause of the Palestinian people. Describing the current situation as incompatible with justice, dignity and human rights, he stressed that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination is an inalienable right recognized by the international community for decades. Jordan’s custodianship over Muslim and Christian holy sites is essential, he added, emphasizing that its Government will continue to fulfil that responsibility, defend the residents of Jerusalem and condemn any attempt to change the area’s historic status.
TAHER M. T. ELSONNI (Libya) said the international community is bored with the same statements and the people of the world have had enough of the double standards, especially in human rights and the application of international law. The Palestinian question is a primary concern for Libya, he said, stressing that his country’s solidarity with the Palestinian people was not born today but is a continuous effort with all who stand together in support of the Palestinian people’s just cause. He stressed the need for universal support for United Nations resolutions on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people and their right to an independent State. Despite the numerous international resolutions on the Palestinian question, none have yet given justice to the Palestinian people, and their suffering continues. Until when will this injustice continue? he asked, adding that it cannot end as long as the occupying Power continues its expansionist policies, imposing an unjust blockade and taking over land. All States are obliged to support the Palestinian people along with their right to an independent State, he said urging action.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam) voiced his concern over violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the volatility of the overall situation. Against this backdrop, Israel’s inflammatory rhetoric and plans for further settlements and evictions of Palestinians are all the more concerning. Without an early solution, it is only a matter of time until the next cycle of violence returns, he said, adding that the Palestinian question must be addressed on the basis of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Turing the vision of the two-State solution into reality requires an environment that is conducive to negotiations and paths to peace, he continued. The international community must work towards a long-lasting solution and utilize all channels of diplomacy, be it the Arab Peace Initiative or the Quartet, he said.
YAARB AHMED NASER AL-TEMEMY (Iraq), calling on the international community to assume its full responsibility, rejected Israel’s racist laws and military choices to create a new status quo in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. As the two-State solution is the only just and lasting solution, the international community must end the escalation of Israeli violence and achieve a genuine outlook for peace. He then condemned the arbitrary practices that unarmed civilians are subjected to, which include arrest; aggressions; the targeting of women, children, hospitals, places of worship and infrastructure; and the banning of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and medical personnel. Urging the Organization and the Council to implement all resolutions concerning the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights, he called on Israel to respect these resolutions and immediately cease its settlements. He went on to reiterate his country’s support for Palestinians to build an independent State and for the State of Palestine to become a full Member State.
MOHAMMAD ALI JARDALI (Lebanon) said the Palestinian issue must be resolved on the basis of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. A settlement will open the way to a stable Middle East, he added. Noting that 2022 has been the bloodiest year ever for the Palestinian people, and drawing attention to ongoing settlement activity, he said that under false pretences, Israel is forbidding Palestinians from building infrastructure. The international community must end this situation and tackle violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws. UNRWA is key to regional stability, he added, calling on States to provide the Agency with predictable financing through regular contributions.
JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), noting 75 years of heroic resistance by the Palestinian people, said that hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced in this time. Israel’s actions undermine a two-State solution, change the demographics of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and violate international law as well as relevant Council resolutions. The requested advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice will not only bring legal guidance to this situation but also help keep alive the political outlook that can bring an end to the occupation. Pointing to the “reigning cycle of impunity”, he said that the international community, including permanent members of the Council, have a responsibility to hold Israel accountable. As long as this historic injustice continues and the occupying force continues its “shoot to kill” policy, Palestinians will continue to suffer, he said.
PAUL BERESFORD-HILL, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, noted that over 10,000 Palestinians have died as a consequence of the conflict since 2000. While this is not matched by an equal number of Israeli fatalities, it nevertheless shows intense personal loss and suffering and poses the eternal question, “Why”. Echoing Pope Francis, he stressed the need for dialogue and mutual trust. He noted the Sovereign Order of Malta’s support for the State of Palestine, which includes employment and medical assistance to protect the most vulnerable. Through its Holy Family Hospital Bethlehem, it delivers about 70 per cent of all Bethlehem infants and provides post-menopausal gynaecological services. Outreach clinics provide medical and social care to mothers and women living in rural villages, scattered communities and refugee camps, he said, highlighting also the provision of eye care services across the West Bank and in Gaza. The Sovereign Order of Malta’s efforts in alleviating pain will only be eased when the two-State solution is adopted unanimously, he said.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution titled “The Syrian Golan” (document A/77/L.27), saying that if the international community is serious about respect for the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as for the inadmissibility of the annexation of territory, then it must take a stand on the occupation of the Syrian Golan and reject any unilateral decisions to change its demographics. The draft resolution maintains the same wording as last year’s text but with technical updates, he explained, adding that Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan and ongoing settlement activities there pose an obstacle to a just and comprehensive peace in the region.
Mr. ALHAKAM (Syria) underscored the impossibility of the United Nations restricting Israel and putting an end to its occupation of the Syrian Golan, which has only encouraged the occupying Power to continue its illegitimate aggression against Syria’s civil infrastructure. Stressing that Israel’s continued defiance of international resolutions is a real obstacle to peace in the Middle East, he called on the Organization to take robust and immediate measures to implement the relevant Council and Assembly resolutions. He further reiterated his attachment to the non-negotiable right to recover all the territory of the Syrian Golan to the 1969 border. Expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people in liberating their territories and guaranteeing the right of return for Palestinian refugees, he also expressed support for the State of Palestine to become a full-fledged member of the United Nations.
(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) emphasized that the Syrian Golan is an integral part of Syria whose recovery by means under international law is an eternal right which cannot be waived. Despite the international community’s rejection of Israel’s occupation and its demands for withdrawal, that country has continued its illegal occupation and systematically commits heinous crimes aimed at changing the legal and democratic nature of the Syrian Golan. It also besieges land and property, loots natural resources and wealth, and implements settler projects with the ultimate purpose of perpetuating and prolonging its occupation. Israel’s protection by the United States and Western countries, he warned, will lead to its continued violations of international law and the Charter and thus endanger the security and stability of both Syria and the Middle East region. Condemning Israel’s actions which violate Syria’s territorial integrity, he called on the international community to immediate end such actions. He then called on Member States to show their support and solidarity to Syria in its just struggle by voting in favour of “L.27”.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Iran said the draft resolutions illustrate strong support for the cause of Palestine. It is miserable that no progress has been made to remove the occupying Power from Palestinian lands despite the international community’s repeated calls, he said, adding that this is the longest-standing crisis of all time and is the core issue facing the Middle East. Palestinians have gone through this experience for more than seven decades, and they must continue their resistance. He reiterated support for his delegation’s proposal in 2019 for a referendum in which all people, including Muslims, Christians and Jews, could choose their own political system and enjoy their rights. His delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolutions submitted under agenda items 32 and 33. Regarding the occupation of the Syrian Golan, he strongly condemned the illegal policies of Israel to impose its jurisdiction on the area, which is null and void, as stated by relevant Council resolutions.
Responding to the representative of Israel’s claim that Jewish people were expelled throughout the Middle East and North Africa by Iran, he noted that thousands of Iranian Jews now live in Iran and are involved in daily life, including holding seats in Parliament and participating in civil activities.
By a recorded vote of 101 in favour to 17 against with 53 abstentions, the Assembly adopted “L.23” on the “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People”.
Next, the Assembly adopted “L.24” titled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 30 against with 47 abstentions.
The Assembly then adopted “L.25” entitled “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Global Communications of the Secretariat” by a recorded vote of 149 in favour to 11 against with 13 abstentions.
The Assembly also adopted “L.26” concerning the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 9 against (Canada, Hungary, Israel, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions (Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uruguay).
Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, the representative of Slovenia said his delegation’s vote in favour of the resolution on “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” is a vote in favour of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Calling for collective efforts to help relaunch the renegotiation process, he reaffirmed the need to work towards a two-State solution with 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as capital of both countries.
The representative of Australia said she abstained from the vote since her country believes in a just and enduring two-State solution negotiated between parties. As rocket attacks against Israel must cease, she called on the Palestinian leadership to refrain from incitement and provocation and foster an atmosphere of tolerance to bring violence to an end. Equally, Israel must cease creating and expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. For negotiations to have any chance of success, conditions on the ground must remain stable. All sides must respect human rights and international law and do everything possible to protect civilians. References to the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the security barrier, she continued, should reflect its non-binding character. Stating that she does not support other resolutions, she explained that viewing any conflict from only one perspective does nothing to advance the cause of peace. Such resolutions divert increasingly strained United Nations resources and contribute to the disproportionate focus Israel continues to receive in the multilateral system.
The representative of the European Union acknowledged the decision of the Palestinian mission to no longer table resolutions under the agenda item “Question of Palestine”, unless a substantive amendment is required. With regard to all resolutions adopted during the Assembly’s seventy-seventh session, the bloc considers the term “Palestinian Government” as referring to the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, the use of the term “Palestine” in the resolution cannot be construed as a recognition of a State of Palestine.
By a recorded vote of 92 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United Kingdom, United States) with 65 abstentions, the Assembly adopted “L.27” titled “The Syrian Golan”.
The representative of Argentina, in an explanation of position, said his delegation voted in favour of the text because its essential character is linked to the illegal nature of the seizure of territory by force, which is prohibited under the United Nations Charter. However, its vote does not prejudge the content of operative paragraph 6. Progress must be made to end the occupation of the Syrian Golan, he said, adding that the resumption of negotiations is essential in this regard, in the context of Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace.
The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said that the increased number of votes in favour of the resolution strongly illustrated the international community’s commitment for the cause of justice for the Palestinian people. He also expressed appreciation that the Secretary-General has named the annual training programme for young Palestinian journalists after Shireen Abu Akleh.