Staggering Loss of Life in Gaza, Follow-on to Temporary Truce Dominate General Assembly Debate on Decades-Long Question of Palestine
Draft Demanding Israel’s Withdrawal from Syrian Golan Passes By Vote of 91 in Favour to 8 Against, with 62 Abstentions
Opening a day-long meeting on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly President warned that the longer the fear, distrust, appetite for revenge, hatred and anxiety fester and further deepen, the more lethal the psychological chasm grows, and the darker the shadow it will cast over generations to come.
Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, noting that the item has lingered on the Assembly’s agenda for 76 years, said the divisions perpetuated in the Assembly Hall must be acknowledged as they are deeply connected to the hopelessness that millions will feel if common ground is not found. He welcomed the temporary ceasefire and release of some of the hostages, as well as access to much needed humanitarian aid for Gaza, and stressed that the protection of civilians is and must remain paramount. The only viable solution to break the endless cycle of conflict and suffering is through a two-State solution in line with the relevant resolutions, he said.
Introducing the annual report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/78/35), Malaysia’s representative, the Committee’s Vice-Chair, said the text calls on Israel to reverse its ongoing annexations, demolitions, settlement expansions and forced displacement of Palestinians. It also urges Israel to halt its punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority and to protect Palestinian civilians, including from Israeli settler violence, and the General Assembly and Security Council to ensure implementation of long-standing parameters for peace.
When the floor opened for debate, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said this is the deadliest period endured by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, “and they have witnessed many previous assaults”. At least 15,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 30,000 people have been wounded. “This is a full-fledged war against Palestine and its people,” he said, adding that the massacres in Gaza have mobilized peoples and nations all around the world, speaking out against injustice.
He reported that more than 1.8 million civilians in Gaza, or nearly 80 per cent of the population, are estimated to be internally displaced, with nearly 1.1 million across Gaza sheltering in facilities run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “still not protected even under the UN flag”, he said. The last several weeks have shown there will be no peace in the Middle East without a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, he said.
Denouncing the systematic crimes and aggression committed by the occupying authority Israel against the Palestinian people, the Kuwaiti representative stressed that such hostility inflames Muslims around the world, undermines regional stability and fuels hatred and violence. He urged the Security Council to hold the Israeli occupation forces responsible, noting that Israelis need to stop acting as if the rights of the Palestinian people are not covered by international law.
“We are struck by the horror of what is happening now,” said Senegal’s speaker, adding that it cannot be decoupled from what happened to the Palestinians for the past 56 years and continues to happen to them in the occupied territories. He welcomed the humanitarian truce and release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees, but said pending a ceasefire, everything must be done to protect civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza. He urged the occupying Power to demonstrate restraint.
Israel’s delegate said the systematic bias weaponized against Israel at the United Nations is based on a false narrative, which enables and encourages hatred and violence. In the wake of the 7 October Hamas massacre, the Organization’s twisted anti-Israel bias has been on clear display, she said, adding that the savage Hamas attack was the most brutal bloodshed of the Jewish people since the dark days of the Holocaust with more than 1,200 Israelis murdered, raped and brutalized and 240 people taken hostage.
The UN, she said, is invested in a Committee that ignores Hamas’s savage brutality instead of denouncing its heinous acts of terror. “This is the textbook definition of a double standard. It is also the textbook definition of antisemitism. “It is reprehensible that we are once again forced to bear witness to the charade of these Halls.” The Committee’s report is the product of an illegitimate mandate, drafted by those who come to the table with a predetermined and discriminatory agenda against Israel, she said.
Also today, the Assembly took up its item on “The situation in the Middle East”, for which it had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/78/315) on the situation. It also had before it a resolution submitted by Syria titled “The Syrian Golan” (document A/78/L.10).
By a recorded vote of 91 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United Kingdom, United States), with 62 abstentions, the Assembly demanded that Israel withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan and resume talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, as well as to respect commitments reached during previous talks.
By further terms of the text, the Assembly declared that Israel has failed so far to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and that its 1981 decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void with no validity. It demanded once more that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967. It called on all concerned parties to resume the peace process and ensure its success by implementing relevant Security Council resolutions.
Introducing the resolution, the Egyptian representative said developments in the Middle East must not discourage the international community from losing sight of the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan. He added that international law and resolutions must be upheld without double standards. If the international community rejects the principle of the occupation of territory by force in one case, it must reject it in all cases with the same determination and decisiveness, he said.
Speaking before the vote, the Syrian delegate said that for more than five decades, the General Assembly has called on Israel, the occupying Power, to end its occupation of the Syrian Golan. He reaffirmed Syria’s legitimate right to reclaim the occupied Syrian Golan, saying, “this is an established right that is not subject to compromise”.
He said that the resolution’s paragraph four stipulates that the Assembly decides once again that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the region. And, it reaffirms that any measures taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and governance on the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void.
The General Assembly President opened the meeting by paying tribute to Samuel Rudolph Insanally, a Guyanese diplomat who served as the Assembly’s President during its forty-eighth session and who passed away on 26 November.
Question of Palestine
DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), General Assembly President, noted that the question of Palestine has lingered on the Assembly’s agenda for 76 years with numerous resolutions and instruments established to end the vicious cycle of violence. “The longer the fear, distrust, appetite for revenge, hatred and anxiety fester and further deepen, the more lethal the psychological chasm grows, and the darker the shadow it will cast over generations to come,” he said. There is a need to acknowledge the divisions perpetuated in the Assembly Hall, which are deeply connected to the hopelessness that millions will feel if common ground is not found.
The only viable way to break the endless cycle of conflict and suffering is through a two-State solution in line with the relevant resolutions, he said, adding: “We must do our part to avert any regional conflagration.”
He welcomed the recent temporary ceasefire and the release of hostages and access to much needed humanitarian aid to Gaza and repeated the call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. He also reiterated a call for a longer-term humanitarian ceasefire so food, water and desperately needed medical aid can reach all those in need in Gaza and all affected areas. He strongly condemned the indiscriminate damage caused to the schools of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) now housing more than 1 million internally displaced persons. Under international law, the protection of civilians is and must remain paramount, and Member States must provide sustainable and predictable support to the Agency.
AHMAD FAISAL MUHAMAD (Malaysia), Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, presented the Committee’s annual report to the General Assembly (document A/78/35), which covers developments from 2 September 2022 to 31 August 2023. The report is organized in seven chapters, including recommendations of the Committee to the Assembly based on international consensus and the Secretary-General’s known position on the question of Palestine, he said. Specifically, the Committee calls on Israel to halt and reverse its ongoing annexations, home demolitions, settlement expansions and forced displacement of Palestinians, including women and children.
The Committee urges Israel to reverse punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority, cease disproportionate use of lethal force and protect Palestinian civilians, including from Israeli settlers, he continued. Israel must respect the status quo at holy sites in Jerusalem, ensure peaceful religious practices and lift the ongoing blockade of Gaza. The Committee deems unilateral decisions taken by Member States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as “null and void” and urges Member States to officially recognize the State of Palestine to promote a two-State solution. The Committee further urges the General Assembly and Security Council to ensure implementation of long-standing parameters for peace.
Regional organizations must also take a politically active role to achieve a just and lasting resolution to the question of Palestine, such as the one offered by the Arab Peace Initiative, he said. Member States must support the UNRWA with sustainable funding. Furthermore, the Committee calls on Member States to carefully review Israel’s anti-terror legislation against Palestinian civil society organizations with a view to delegitimizing their activities.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that this is the deadliest period ever endured by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, “and they have witnessed many previous assaults”. It is the largest forced displacement of Palestinians since the Nakba. “The massacres against our people in Gaza have mobilized peoples and nations all around the world, speaking out against injustice and calling for justice, calling for a ceasefire now in Gaza, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, calling for a free Palestine,” he said. The General Assembly was the first UN body to reflect this global outrage and to take a clear and unequivocal stance calling for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.
He recalled that the Assembly convened in an emergency special session and took this courageous step over one month ago. Two thirds of the UN membership voted in favour of the resolution tabled. Had it been implemented then thousands of Palestinian lives would have been spared and families would not have endured such agony and anguish. It took the Security Council several more deadly weeks to finally act on “a less ambitious resolution”. Only a truce can allow sincere efforts to begin to address the humanitarian catastrophe being inflicted by Israel, the occupying Power, in Gaza, and only a truce can lead to the release of people held in captivity. This truce must turn into a permanent ceasefire.
“As more and more images of the devastation in Gaza reach the world, each one of us has a choice to make,” he continued, underscoring that 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including more than 6,000 children and 4,000 women. More than 30,000 people have been wounded, with many suffering amputations and burns, enduring their injuries and pain without medical care. Over 1.8 million civilians in Gaza, or nearly 80 per cent of the population, are estimated to be internally displaced. Nearly 1.1 million of them are sheltering in UNRWA facilities across Gaza, “still not protected even under the UN flag”.
“This is a full-fledged war against Palestine and its people,” he continued. This is reconfirmed by events in the West Bank where more than 230 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured in seven weeks, at the hands of Israeli occupation forces and settlers. More than 3,000 Palestinian civilians, including children, have been arrested and detained by the incessant military raids of the Israeli occupying forces across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in this same seven-week period, bringing the number of prisoners to over 10,000 Palestinians held captive in Israeli jails, enduring inhumane conditions.
What the last several weeks have shown is that there will be no peace in the Middle East without a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, he stressed. The two-State solution requires a strong, independent and sovereign Palestinian State on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Those who favour such a solution must take action against the colonial occupation that “kills” such a prospect. Those who favour that solution must recognize the State of Palestine, provide it with UN membership and help it actualize its sovereignty on the ground.
RETNO L. P. MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said: “I cannot stand still to see thousands of deaths of innocent women and children. I cannot stand still to see homes, schools and hospitals being flattened to rubble.” On 11 November, the joint summit of the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued a strong position on the importance of unhindered humanitarian assistance, a permanent ceasefire and a two-State solution. “Is what Israel is doing consistent with international law,” she asked, calling for a permanent ceasefire. Without it, it will be difficult to save lives. Accordingly, she underscored the need to ensure unhindered humanitarian assistance in Gaza and support UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies to help 1.7 million Palestinians forcibly displaced therein. Indonesia is committed to scaling up assistance, including by deploying its floating hospitals.
Attacks against hospitals, schools and places of worship should not be normalized, she asserted, adding that what has taken place in Gaza is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Additionally, double standards in the application of international law must be called out and Israel’s accountability to various relevant fora, including the International Court of Justice, be ensured. To restart the Palestine-Israel peace and political process, the root causes of the conflict must be addressed. The occupation on Palestinian land must end, she stressed, noting that there are no military solutions to the conflict. Calling for a credible negotiating process with Palestine and Israel as UN full members, she said “only by using our heart can we bring humanity and justice”.
KHALID SALEH SAID AL RUBKHI (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, called for the end of indiscriminate attacks by Israeli occupying forces against Gaza, targeting civilians and civilian property, including hospitals, schools and UN sites. He rejected the characterization of these attacks as self-defence and any attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians from their territories. Calling Israel an occupying Power, in line with resolutions under international law, he welcomed the recent humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas, a national resistance movement, which has been mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States. He called on all parties to abide by the truce and he hopes a continuous truce will end the bloodshed and lead to serious talks for a just and comprehensive peace.
He strongly condemns Israel’s continuous and heinous crimes, including the use of internationally banned weapons, and he called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for violating international humanitarian law. He deplores any attempt to add settlements to Israel’s territory, which violates international resolutions. He also condemns the continued incursions of Israeli settlers on the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the Israel Defense Forces’ support and protection, violating the mosque’s sanctity and provoking Muslims around the world. He rejects any altering of the mosque’s historic and political status by Israel. Such violations only increase tensions and undermine peace efforts. The occupying Power must respond to calls for peace and engage in serious negotiations in good faith and on the basis of a two-State solution.
BRIAN WALLACE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), voiced concern over the decades-long perpetuation of the Palestinian question, noting that “despite the existence of both a legal and moral framework to resolve the question, it persists to the detriment of both Palestine and Israel”. Only a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian question will fulfil their right to self-determination and guarantee the security of Israel. Moreover, while no implementation of various UN resolutions on the issue has occurred, tensions have only heightened since the 7 October events. Violence will not lead to a solution, he underscored, noting that it instead stokes insecurity and suffering. In that vein, CARICOM emphasizes Member States’ obligation to operate within the confines of international law, he said. Condemning the events of 7 October and the ensuing military response in the strongest possible terms, he said “CARICOM is appalled” by the large number of innocent lives lost in such a short time frame, lamenting also the 100 UN staff members killed in the line of duty.
Voicing further concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has only worsened since 7 October, he said the four-day pause is an important first step towards a permanent end to hostilities. “We call for a permanent ceasefire,” he said, stressing that such a move is critical for delivering humanitarian aid to the besieged population and setting a clear path to recovery. The international community must seriously contemplate measures for permanently resolving the question of Palestine, he said, recalling that both the existing legal and moral frameworks to provide a solution must be matched with political will. Without a permanent solution, Israelis and Palestinians will continue to endure recurring cycles of violence and delay the Palestinians’ legitimate right to self-determination. “We cannot continue to leave the Palestinian people behind,” he said.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) reiterated her country’s solidarity with the Palestinians and aligned herself with the Gulf Cooperation Council. She noted that more than 50,000 people have been killed or injured or are lost under the rubble in Gaza, most of them women and children. This led some UN officials to describe the Gaza Strip as a children’s grave. She condemned in the strongest possible terms the systemic targeting of schools and hospitals, a heinous violation of international law and conventions, and reiterated the call to establish an international committee to investigate the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza. She also called for a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question, which would guarantee the rights of the Palestinians to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State, along 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
IBRAHIM ZUHUREE (Maldives) said the long-standing suffering of Palestinians demands urgent attention, strongly condemning the ongoing brutal occupation and collective punishment of innocent Palestinian civilians. The current conflict did not start on 7 October, he said, adding that over many decades, Israel has caused immense humanitarian, social and economic suffering for millions of Palestinians. The Israeli Defense Forces have intentionally targeted civilian infrastructure, he said, adding that such actions violate international humanitarian law and that the rule of law should be applied equally to all countries. He called on the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. He welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2712 (2023), which urges immediate and extended humanitarian pauses in Gaza and the unconditional release of hostages. “Every minute of the truce helps deliver essential supplies to millions enduring this humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.
NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia) recalled the legacy of Samuel Rudolph Insanally and his role in Namibia’s self-determination and noted that those same rights must be extended to the Palestinian people. Tomorrow’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People occurs amid an “unabated full-scale aggression” in which neither hospitals, refugee camps nor schools are spared. Welcoming Security Council resolution 2712 (2023) as well as the humanitarian pauses, he condemned, however, continued reports of violence, including the latest attack on the Jenin refugee camp. Reiterating the call for unhindered access for humanitarian aid and an end to the forced mass displacement of the Palestinian people, he urged the international community to urgently achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions and hold Israel accountable for their continued violation. Reiterating support for Palestinian self-determination, he stressed that “the moment is now” to achieve that.
FIKRIYE ASLI GÜVEN (Türkiye) said that, since 7 October, the death toll in Gaza has reached nearly 15,000 people, mostly women and children. Almost half of the housing units there are destroyed, and over 2 million Palestinians are in dire need of humanitarian aid. “They are being subjected to acts of collective punishment,” she added. “We commend the UN agencies and the humanitarians who are working on the ground under unbearable conditions,” she continued, expressing condolences for over 100 UN personnel who lost their lives. Only a durable ceasefire can prevent further violence and suffering. The unhindered flow of sufficient humanitarian aid must reach all people in need in Gaza.
Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including UN facilities hosting displaced people, must be protected everywhere, she went on to say. Forced displacement of the Palestinians must stop. International law should be upheld. To stop the carnage in Gaza, Türkiye has mobilized all diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. “Our foreign ministers have been visiting major capitals to initiate international action to stop the war in Gaza,” she added. Türkiye has provided humanitarian aid to Gaza and has transferred 80 patients from a Gaza hospital to Türkiye to continue their treatments. Further, she stressed that the failure of the Security Council to adopt a decision for almost six weeks or to call for an immediate ceasefire cannot go unnoticed.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), detailing Israel’s unjust aggression against the Gaza strip, said the magnitude of its latest attacks is unprecedented, with civilian casualties reaching “unbelievable levels”. Also, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, residential buildings and UN facilities seen in different towns in Gaza is equally unprecedented. Israel continues to indiscriminately shell towns, imposing a siege on the Palestinian people and restrictions on humanitarian aid, which makes life in Gaza “impossible”. The temporary truce that is holding right now — to which Egypt, Qatar and the United States have contributed — does not obliterate the need for a ceasefire, he said, stressing the imperative to end the bloodshed and prevent regional spillover.
Israel, he emphasized, must allow the delivery of humanitarian aid unobstructed through all border crossings into the Gaza strip, and the Security Council must shoulder its full responsibility in this regard. Noting that flagrant violations against the Palestinian people are not new, he highlighted an increase in annexation operations and brutal attacks of Israeli settlers against Palestinian citizens. Against this backdrop, he said the two-State solution is “the only viable way” to guarantee the rights of Palestinians to live in safety and peace with Israel as two independent States.
MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH HMOUD (Jordan) urged the international community and Security Council to mobilize efforts to permanently end the war to protect civilians in Gaza. The Palestinian people are experiencing abject aggression from Israel, leading to the loss of more than 16,000 Palestinian lives. Unclear positions only encourage this aggression to continue, with double standards and selectivity regarding the implementation of international law. He warned against escalation in the West Bank, particularly the terrorism of Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. Illegal, continuing Israeli measures only worsen the occupation and despair, leading to more conflicts and injustice. The recent truce should be a step toward a total cessation of the war in Gaza by ending its escalation and forced displacement, facilitating delivery of humanitarian assistance and increasing stability so Gazans can stay where they are. The Palestinian question has been and will remain the central issue for Jordanians. He called for a resumption of peace, guaranteeing the Palestinian people’s rights to a viable State with East Jerusalem as its capital and along 1967 borders. The two-State solution is the only way to ensure peace in the entire region.
MUHAMMAD USMAN IQBAL JADOON (Pakistan) unequivocally condemned the indiscriminate use of force by Israel on civilians, civilian objects and infrastructure, and its blockading of food and water — all of which may amount to genocide. “The Israeli killing machine operating with complete impunity needs to be stopped” and Israel must be held accountable. Voicing unwavering solidarity with the Palestinians, he decried the suffering of the besieged people of Gaza. Pakistan rejects Israel’s relentless bombing as self-defence, he said, noting that the root cause of the crisis lies in Israel’s prolonged occupation. He hopes that the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit held in Riyadh on 11 November will lead to action by the Security Council to halt the Israeli slaughter, impose a durable ceasefire and revive the peace process. Meanwhile, Israel must comply with the provisions of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly during this emergency special session, he said, noting that the Assembly and Security Council must also consider actions, including establishing an accountability mechanism, to investigate Israel’s atrocity crimes, as well as the deployment an international protection force for Palestinian civilians.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), aligning herself with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, expressed grave concern over the devastating escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She called for the immediate cessation of violence and an end to indiscriminate attacks by Israel on the civilian population in Gaza. Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and its illegal settlement expansion is a flagrant violation of international law, she said. “These illegal practices by Israel adversely affect all aspects of Palestinian lives,” she said, adding that, since 7 October, the world has heard the repeated assertion that Israel has a right to defend itself, based on its inalienable right to self-determination. “However, very little — if anything — is said by the same States about Palestine’s inalienable right to self-determination,” she said, noting that the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/78/35) contains numerous examples of Israel’s continued disregard for Palestine’s inalienable rights.
Mr. KADIR (Malaysia), associating with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the Palestinian people remain oppressed in unimaginable and inhumane ways. “They continue to be seen and treated as subhuman by their occupiers, who continue to impose upon them repressive, apartheid policies.” UN resolutions are entirely ignored, perpetrators are let off with impunity and occupation and oppressions resume. “For how long more are we going to let this continue,” he asked, adding that “the current violent outbreak in the region did not happen in a vacuum”. Gazans have been living in what has been described as the biggest open-air prison in the world. He commended the decision to extend the humanitarian pause there, but is disappointed that the pause in hostilities was reached six weeks after “Israeli carnage” began. The international community must act decisively. It can no longer be denied that the only way to achieve regional peace and security is the establishment of a free and independent State of Palestine.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), noting the importance of humanitarian pauses for timely and continuous humanitarian aid delivery, reported that India has sent 70 tons of humanitarian goods, including 16.5 tons of medicines and medical supplies. She welcomed the release of hostages, underscoring her country’s zero-tolerance approach to terrorism. Spotlighting that India’s Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister have been in close contact with leaders in the Middle East, emphasizing a peaceful solution through dialogue and diplomacy, she said that her Government will continue supporting the Palestinian people through the bilateral development partnership that covers health, education, women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship and information technology.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said the Israeli operation is one of mass expulsion of an entire people to annex territory. It is a new cycle of expansionist terror of the many suffered by the Palestinian people for more than 75 years of occupation. Over the last eight weeks, almost 15,000 innocent civilians have been murdered, mainly women and children, in an ethnic cleansing operation that has not spared even UN personnel. It is reprehensible that the United States Government and its satellites aim to justify the unjustifiable: a genocide carried out by the occupying Power against the Palestinian people. Where are those who elsewhere rush to apply the responsibility to protect, but now are ignoring the human rights of Palestinians? Their silence makes them complicit.
He urged the UN to act decisively, including the Secretariat, which has a crucial role in preserving the right to life of millions of innocent people. “We cannot allow our actions and our omissions to make us jointly responsible for the annihilation of the entire people.” Israel has no intention of ending the occupation. Rather, it seeks to gain complete control of the Occupied Palestinian Territory while altering the demographic situation, repressing Palestinians and privileging Israeli settlers. This is apartheid. The impunity must end, and Israel must be held accountable for the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed for years, as well as for the genocide under way today.
ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines), celebrating a Filipino national’s release as one of the first 24 hostages freed by Hamas, expressed optimism that negotiations for the humanitarian pause will expedite aid delivery to Gaza and facilitate the swift release of all remaining hostages. Noting the presence of a significant Filipino community in the Middle East and Israel, he reiterated his country’s commitment to resolving the Israeli-Hamas conflict. He urged all concerned parties to immediately put in place solutions to prevent the conflict from further escalating, spreading and protracting. Recognizing the suffering of all affected civilians, he condemned all forms of violence and aggression from any party. He supported all efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace process and reiterated firm support for a two-State solution consistent with relevant UN resolutions and international agreements. He called for unity, not only in seeking temporary relief, but in pursuing lasting peace and dignity for all in the region.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said that Palestine is the core issue in the Middle East and voiced grave concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the loss of civilian lives and infrastructure destruction. Israel’s actions are inconsistent with international law and undermine peace. He welcomed the temporary truce, which can lead to a permanent ceasefire. Stressing the importance of protecting all civilians, he called for the release of all hostages while rejecting the forced displacement of Palestinians and threats to the security of neighbouring States. Any unilateral measures inconsistent with international law will only lead to further division between Israelis and Palestinians, he warned, adding that no peace can be achieved in the region without addressing the legitimate aspirations for self-determination of the Palestinian people. There is no alternative to the Government of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas, and there is no alternative to the two-State solution with both parties living side by side along the 1967 borders, he said.
REUT SHAPIR BEN NAFTALY (Israel) said she took the floor to address yet another one-sided, biased and disproportionate briefing fueled by a distorted and destructive political agenda. The deep hypocrisy and systematic bias weaponized against Israel at the United Nations are based on a false narrative, which not only entrenches and perpetuates conflict, but enables and encourages hatred and violence. In the wake of the 7 October Hamas massacre, the UN’s twisted anti-Israel bias has been on clear display for the world to see. Thousands of savage Hamas terrorists flooded Israel, carrying out the most widespread and brutal bloodshed on the Jewish people since the dark days of the Holocaust. More than 1,200 Israelis were murdered, raped and brutalized, and 240 were taken hostage, among them children and babies. The extent of the atrocities by Hamas has not been addressed or recognized by United Nations agencies, and especially not by the report debated here today.
It is incomprehensible that United Nations finances and resources are invested in the work of a Committee that completely ignores the savage brutality and terror of Hamas. Instead of denouncing heinous acts of terror by Hamas, instead of denouncing the slaughter of children, burning of entire families and mass rape of women, this Assembly continues to pass resolutions, year after year, exclusively condemning Israel while remaining silent in the face of the most heinous crimes committed by Hamas terrorists. “This is the textbook definition of a double standard. It is also the textbook definition of antisemitism,” she said. “It is reprehensible that we are once again forced to bear witness to the charade of these halls.” This report is the product of an illegitimate mandate and is drafted by those who come to the table with a predetermined and discriminatory agenda against Israel. She strongly objected to the continued operation of the Committee, whose sole purpose is to promote an anti-Israel agenda.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana), associating herself with CARICOM, said that the fundamental reason for the terrible circumstances under which the Palestinian people live remains unchanged. They are denied the right to self-determination and are forced to “carry the weight of an oppressive occupation on their backs”. This oppression manifests in human rights violations, including forced evictions, displacement of communities, confiscation of properties, killing of innocent civilians, grave violations against children, and restriction on freedom of movement, among others. Humanitarian responses to the plight of the Palestinian people, though important, can never substitute for a human rights-based approach. This is the only way to address the fundamental challenge to the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. There shall be no impunity for the flagrant violations of international law. Guyana calls for the relevant judicial organs, including the International Criminal Court, to ensure accountability for all crimes, she said.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), reiterating serious concern about the current situation in the Gaza Strip, expressed strong and unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel. She recognized Israel's right to exercise its legitimate defence; however, the measures taken must be respectful of international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality, in accordance with Geneva Convention IV and its Additional Protocols. Accordingly, she condemned attacks against civilians and called for an end to attacks against civilian infrastructure in Gaza, especially hospitals, schools and refugee reception centres. She welcomed the agreement for a truce which was reached last week, as well as the release of some hostages by Hamas. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is now “a disaster”, she said, stressing that the entry of international humanitarian assistance must normalize so that it reaches the affected population urgently and sustainably. Although today the focus is on the Gaza Strip, the international community cannot lose sight of the fact that violence has also increased in the West Bank, she said, voicing concern over violent actions by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. There is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she said, calling for the resumption of negotiations between the two parties.
PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile), recognizing the recent humanitarian pause and return of Israeli hostages, called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the unconditional release of all hostages and immediate implementation of the 10-point plan for aid in Gaza, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The use of force for legitimate defence of an attacked State should be guided by international humanitarian law, but this requirement has not been met, given the bombing of civilian housing, public infrastructure and educational and health centres. She urged parties to the conflict to convert the pause into a permanent ceasefire and end Palestinian civilian suffering. Chile will not remain indifferent to the situation and the Palestinian people’s pain. The international community must create conditions for all to end the war and begin genuine, productive dialogue toward two States with secure, mutually agreed borders in line with UN resolutions.
ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia), aligning himself with the Gulf Cooperation Council, rejects the Israeli operations and calls for their cessation, with the establishment of permanent humanitarian corridors. Welcoming the current humanitarian pause, he calls for full implementation of the related Security Council resolution to “save what can be saved”, especially women and children. He strongly condemns the ongoing crimes against Palestinians including the use of prohibited weapons and calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable. Double standards and selectivity undermine both the legitimacy of the global order and the maintenance of peace and security. Further, he condemns the annexation of land through settlements in the West Bank, as well as incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and attempts to change its legal status. Peace cannot be achieved without the two-State solution establishing a sovereign Palestine along the 1967 borders. Israel should negotiate in good faith for regional peace, stability and security.
MERETE FJELD BRATTESTED (Norway), reiterating that only a two-State solution can lead to peace, called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Noting that, for the past few days, the world has witnessed what can be achieved when the guns are silenced, she welcomed the temporary humanitarian pause and release of hostages. She further stressed that humanitarian access must be improved and sustained, encouraging States to discuss how commercial goods can start crossing over to Gaza and re-establish local markets. The international community must continue supporting Palestine’s institution-building and unification of the people under one legitimate authority, she said, emphasizing that Israel must put an end to policies and actions that weaken the Palestinian Authority. She observed that, if the financial situation is not improved, this could lead to further destabilization of the West Bank and a collapse of Palestinian Authority’s institutions. “Norway will continue its efforts to stabilize and strengthen Palestinian institutions as Chair of the donor group to Palestine,” she added.
ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that the question of Palestine has been the longest unresolved issue on the United Nations agenda. Although the Organization has adopted numerous resolutions to that end throughout the past seven decades, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination has not been realized. Expressing concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, he called for the resumption of diplomatic negotiations. “All civilians must be protected with rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian assistance to prevent another major catastrophe,” he stressed, noting that all parties concerned must live up to their commitments and refrain from taking any further actions which will jeopardize the peace process. Emphasizing that his country supports the State of Palestine’s full UN membership, he added: “We must strive to build the foundation of hope for the Palestinian people.”
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) reiterated the call for a lasting cessation of hostilities in Gaza, and recognized the mediation efforts of Qatar, Egypt and the United States, which led to the release of some hostages and a humanitarian truce. He also reiterated the call for the release of all hostages, including two Mexicans, held by Hamas. He noted the importance of ending indiscriminate attacks on civilians by the Israeli army as well as by Hamas and other extremist groups. He also expressed support for all efforts to establish a fair and lasting peace anchored in international law, adding that given its current workload, Mexico will increase its contributions to UNRWA. In conclusion, he urged all parties to the conflict to focus their efforts on dialogue, which is the only way to achieve a solution to this complex conflict.
NACIM GAOUAOUI (Algeria) said that the Palestinian people have endured continued suffering under occupation. Algeria condemns the attacks on Palestinians, including women and children, which has resulted in the death of 15,000 Palestinian people. He implored the international community to intervene and bring an end to the violence. “It is paramount not to divert our attention from the West Bank where occupation forces continue to wreak havoc, causing numerous casualties and detaining hundreds,” he added. Algeria strongly denounces the approval of new settlement plans by the occupation authorities. Algeria reiterates its unwavering support for the Palestinian peoples’ inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital. He further emphasized the need to preserve Jerusalem's legal and historical statues, including its Islamic and Christian holy sites, such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam), noting the recent announcement of the humanitarian pause extension in Gaza and further release of hostages, expressed concern over the ongoing cycle of violence and tension. Calling for the cessation of hostilities, maximum restraint and application of all necessary measures to protect human lives, he added: “The only path ahead should be an immediate and long-standing ceasefire and a return to negotiations that builds on current progress.” He underscored the importance of resolving the conflict via peaceful means, emphasizing that all diplomacy channels — bilateral or multilateral — should be utilized. Noting that his country will contribute $500,000 to UNRWA, he emphasized: “We stand ready to engage in the endeavours of the United Nations and the international community to promote dialogue and seek an enduring, long-term and peaceful resolution.”
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) voiced concern over the deteriorating political, security, social and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of the occupation. He condemns the continued violations by Israel, which are occurring without accountability. The international community must, more than ever, shoulder its political, legal and moral responsibility to put an end to the crimes committed by the occupying authorities and the systematic genocidal acts against Palestinian civilians. He condemns all international humanitarian law violations, coupled with suspicious international silence. The international community should apply the same standards when dealing with issues of occupation and aggression. He urged an immediate ceasefire and the swift delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Palestine, without conditions or impediments. He also unequivocally rejects all attempts of forced displacement and all steps aimed at altering the demographic character of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Ending the occupation is the only way to achieve peace and stability in the region, he stressed.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) reiterated his country’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, self-determination and the establishment of an independent State, with the borders of 4 June 1967 and East Jerusalem as the capital, according to international law, the Arab Peace Initiative and UN resolutions. A two-State solution will guarantee coexistence of the two peoples — Palestinians and Israelis — as well as a sustainable and lasting peace. In the Gaza Strip, life has become unbearable under the siege. The continued conflict is a threat to peace and security in the region at large, particularly with increased violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), noting that more than 15,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the past 52 days, said that Israel continues its genocide and war crimes. Condemning indiscriminate bombing of refugee camps, schools, hospitals and religious sites in Gaza, he pointed out that Israeli occupying forces and “extremist settlers” continue carrying out attacks in the West Bank and holy sites in Jerusalem. After 7 October, the situation in Palestine has crossed all limits beyond one’s wildest nightmare. He urged Israel, the occupying Power, to engage in negotiations leading to the establishment of an independent and viable State of Palestine. No one should allow or be allowed to commit war crimes and kill innocent civilians in the name of the right to self-defence, he stressed, calling for accountability and bringing Israel to justice.
ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) called for an end to the brutal Israeli aggression targeting the Palestinian people and their identity. Reiterating strong condemnation of the barbaric aggression as well as the targeting of civilians and those working in humanitarian organizations, he noted that ongoing Israeli impunity has emboldened the country’s actions. Calling for accountability, he rejected selectivity in implementation of international legal and moral norms. Further condemning repeated, unprecedented insults against the UN itself by Israel, he called for an end to such attacks so the UN can carry out its important work. Welcoming the humanitarian pause, he called for its extension into a ceasefire to save civilian lives. Calling on Israel to respect the status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said that a just and lasting peace — the only way to ensure stability in the region — is only possible with an end to Israeli occupation and implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative.
CHRISTOPHER HENZEL (United States) noted that today is the fifth day of complete pause in the fighting in Gaza since the recent conflict began. A hostage deal has brought hostages home to their loved ones after more than 50 days, he said, welcoming the announcement by Qatar that the humanitarian pause will be extended two days. The United States has taken maximum advantage of this pause to provide as much humanitarian aid as possible, he said, adding that the pause has enabled a significant surge in humanitarian assistance to the innocent civilians suffering throughout the Gaza Strip. The United States has led the humanitarian response in Gaza, building on years of work as the largest funder of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. Regarding the resolution before the Assembly, one-sided texts will not help advance peace but will perpetuate long-standing divisions.
HANAN M. M. HABIB (Libya) condemned the “wanton” and continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and other occupied Palestinian territories. This aggression has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people, including women, children, medical staff, journalists and UN personnel. These are heinous crimes against humanity. It is high time the international conscience moves to put an end to the worst and most violent occupation known to humanity. Attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians and shift the crisis to neighbouring countries will not provide a solution. They will only aggravate the crisis. “We will not wait until we witness a new Nakba,” she said. The Palestinian people must attain all human rights, including the right to self-determination and establishment of an independent sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
FAISAL GH A. T. M. ALENEZI (Kuwait), associating with the Gulf Cooperation Council, denounced the systematic crimes and aggression committed by Israel, the occupying authority, against the Palestinian people, stressing that these hostile practices inflame Muslims worldwide. These practices are part of a series of blatant violations and abuses of all international instruments and resolutions, undermining regional stability and fuelling hatred, extremism and violence. He urged the international community, in particular the Security Council, to hold the Israeli occupation forces responsible. He asked when the Israeli killing machine, undeterred and in full impunity, will stop killing the Palestinians. Israelis need to stop acting as if the rights of the Palestinian people are not covered by international law. He condemns the brutal aggression and urges a compulsory ceasefire. The occupation authorities have no desire for peace in the Middle East. They are releasing some Palestinian detainees, owing to the mediation efforts, while arresting the same number of Palestinian children and youth in the West Bank. Moreover, Israeli settlers are killing defenceless Palestinians daily, with no accountability.
KAREN JEAN BAIMARRO (Sierra Leone) emphasized the imperative for Member States and the international community to explore all possible diplomatic and political avenues to achieve a two-State solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace. She called for an immediate, comprehensive humanitarian ceasefire, the release of all hostages without conditions and a scale-up of aid into the Gaza Strip. Hoping for the situation’s complete de-escalation, she invited the conflict’s parties to comply with international law and stressed the need to achieve a just and comprehensive solution to the question of Palestine. Acknowledging the plight of Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, she reiterated the need for continued humanitarian and socioeconomic assistance to the most vulnerable.
LEONOR ZALABATA TORRES (Colombia) joined the clamouring condemnation of the violence and barbarism committed against civilians since October. Voicing horror that more children have died in this short period than in conflicts in the past few years, she said her country’s history shows that military solutions do not exist in conflicts. Dialogue is the only way to bring about a lasting peace — a right that all societies should enjoy. She called for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian question according to the two-State solution within internationally recognized borders in line with relevant UN resolutions, and she urged a redoubling of efforts to stop the hostilities, loss of innocent lives, forced displacements and destruction of civilian infrastructure. Welcoming the humanitarian assistance to those who urgently need it, she called for a definitive solution recognizing Palestine as a sovereign State.
YUSNIER ROMERO PUENTES (Cuba), noting that the world is witnessing a humanitarian disaster of extreme proportions, said his delegation is deeply concerned by the escalation of violence after 75 years of Israel’s illegal occupation and violations against Palestinians on their own land. These acts show a prolonged lack of respect for the UN Charter and international law as well as many relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. The impunity with which the Israeli Government acts underlines support it receives from the United States and its allies. His delegation demands an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as well as an end to the warlike rhetoric of the Israeli Government. His delegation is alarmed that the Security Council has achieved no results, adding that the United States should stop impeding the body. He called on the Council to fulfil its responsibilities under the UN Charter, adding that the international community cannot remain passive. He condemned Israel’s decision to attack Syria and its airport, stressing that the impunity with which Israel is acting should stop immediately.
CHEIKH MOHAMADOU BAMBA GUEYE (Senegal) praised the Secretary-General and others for efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and welcomed the humanitarian truce and the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees. Until a ceasefire is achieved, everything must be done to protect civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza, he said, urging Israel, the occupying Power, to demonstrate restraint and spare medical personnel and media personnel since more than 2.2 million people in Gaza rely on them. He reiterated an appeal to Member States, the UN and multilateral organizations to support UNRWA and their mission during this emergency. “We are all struck by the horror of what is happening now,” which cannot be decoupled from what has happened to the Palestinians for the past 56 years and continues to happen to them in the occupied territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Gulf Cooperation Council, said it is incumbent on “all of us” to revive a serious, credible peace process to achieve a two-State solution and establish a sovereign independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is urgent to reach a peaceful, just and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question, especially in light of the serious escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, and specifically the Gaza Strip. He condemned Israeli aggression, which has claimed the lives of 14,000 Palestinians. The United Arab Emirates welcomes the four-day truce that was extended for two additional days. He commended the efforts of Egypt, Qatar and the United States, which have facilitated this pause and supported its implementation.
The unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is escalating owing to the blockade and destruction, requires an intensification of international support for the Palestinian people, he continued. More than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza are deprived of the most basic life necessities, he said, strongly condemning the forcible displacement and collective punishment against the “brotherly Palestinian people”. There is also a need to end deterioration of the situation in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem due to ongoing Israeli violations. Further, he expressed grave concern over the latest violations of Islamic and Christian holy sites, especially holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, and affirmed the need to preserve the legal and historical status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.
AMIR SAEID IRAVANI (Iran) said that, based on the report presented here, the situation on the ground is a direct result of continued Israeli occupation, which is the core of crises and conflicts in the Middle East. The number of Palestinian casualties rose rapidly in the first half of 2023, with the highest number recorded since 2006. Israeli settlers targeted Palestinians, including children on their way to school, and attacked and vandalized Palestinian homes and vehicles. “Any desperate attempt to cover up and justify crimes against Palestinians under the guise of self-defence, while disregarding the inherent rights of Palestinians, particularly their right to self-defence, is devoid of legal basis and credibility,” he said. If any party is justified in exercising the right to self-defence, it is the Palestinians. He called for a lifting of the Gaza blockade and an end to the occupation. Finally, the Palestinians should be supported in establishing their own independent State.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation), noting the lack of justification for terrorist acts against Israeli civilians, said there is also no justification for the scale of bloodshed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. No references to the right to self-defence can justify aggressive settlement activity, forced displacement of Palestinian families and the destruction of their property. From the outset, his delegation has consistently called for a swift and lasting ceasefire. United States policy has played a destructive role in the current escalation, deliberately closing its eyes to ongoing settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and resulting in unprecedented conflict, with the risk of spillover across the entire region. He called for a two-State solution to establish an independent, fully sovereign Palestinian State with the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, coexisting in peace and security with Israel and all other neighbours.
ELEANE YAOSKA PICHARDO URBINA (Nicaragua), delivering remarks in view of tomorrow’s International Day of Solidarity with Palestine, said that crimes against humanity continue to be committed against women, children, men and the elderly. “Condemning this barbarism is our duty.” Further, the international community must demand an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army as well as the imperialistic forces of the United States’ Government from the occupied territories. Nicaragua is unfaltering in its support for liberation, she said, reaffirming that the people of Palestine will be victorious in their struggle to exercise the right to self-determination in a Palestinian State within the pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital. Nicaragua sends hope and strength to the besieged Palestinian people, she said, adding that Middle East peace will only be achieved with the full realization of a Palestinian State, in line with relevant UN resolutions and the desires of peace-loving peoples throughout the world.
Situation in the Middle East
Introducing the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/78/L.10), OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said his delegation submits this resolution each year, despite the passage of decades since Israel’s occupation of Arab territories, including its 1967 occupation of Syria. The developments in the Middle East must not discourage the international community from upholding international law and the principles of the UN Charter or lose sight of Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan. International law and resolutions must be upheld without double standards. If the international community rejects the principle of the occupation of territory by force in one case, it must reject it in all cases with the same determination and decisiveness.
The international community must take a strong stance against continued occupation of the Syrian Golan, he said. Israel represents an obstacle to the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. His delegation hopes that all Member States will support the draft resolution to affirm the importance of adhering to international law and rejecting annexation of the territories of others by force. The Israeli occupation must come to an end and the Assembly must act in one unified voice.
ALHAKAM DANDY (Syria) said that, for more than five decades, the General Assembly has called on Israel, the occupying Power, to end its occupation of the Syrian Golan. It has reaffirmed that any measures taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and governance on the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void. Paragraph four of the draft resolution today stipulates that the Assembly decides once again that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the region. The protection afforded by the United States to Israel is encouraging Israeli occupation forces to continue occupying the lands of others and threaten stability, peace, and security in the region and beyond.
“We are witnessing today criminal Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, where the number of victims has reached unprecedented records,” he said. Israel also persists in its settlement policies, blockade, arbitrary detentions, forcible displacements and racial discrimination in the occupied territories, he added. Syria calls on the United Nations to adopt immediate measures to implement its resolutions to put an end to Israeli occupation of occupied Arab territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan. He reaffirmed Syria’s legitimate right to reclaim the occupied Syrian Golan. “This is an established right that is not subject to compromise,” he said.
HADI HACHEM (Lebanon) said this year has been one of the most difficult that the Palestinian people have witnessed since the Nakba due to the bloody aggression being caried out by Israel against Gaza and the West Bank. This aggression has not spared civilians, children or the elderly, and has not shied away from destroying civilian buildings and UN facilities. “We have seen children trembling in fear after they have been taken from underneath the rubble,” he said, highlighting the suffering that the people of Gaza are enduring due to the lack of access to humanitarian assistance. Israel is using food, water, electricity and basic materials for life-saving and medical supplies as war weapons. He also drew attention to the humanitarian crisis in the West Bank, where thousands of Palestinians are being pushed from their land due to the terrorism of Israeli settlers. So far, over 200 Palestinians have been killed there since 7 October and more than 400 have been killed since the beginning of 2023. Furthermore, Israel’s violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty continues, he said, adding that it is bombing South Lebanon, using deadly weapons and white phosphorus, both of which are internationally prohibited. This has led to the murder of over 100 people. The Israeli Defense Forces have repeatedly targeted areas where journalists are known to be — while they were covering the news on the southern border, he said, noting that three journalists have been killed. “The criminality of Israel knows no bounds and its goal is to silence the media that is uncovering its crimes,” he said, also condemning its occupation of the Syrian Golan, which is prohibited under international law.
The Assembly then adopted the resolution titled “The Syrian Golan” by a recorded vote of 91 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, United Kingdom, United States), with 62 abstentions.
By the text, the Assembly declared that Israel has failed so far to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and that the Israeli decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void with no validity. The Assembly called on Israel to rescind the decision and resume talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, as well as to respect commitments reached during previous talks. The Assembly demanded once more that Israel withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967. Furthermore, it called upon all concerned parties, the co-sponsors of the peace process and the entire international community to exert all necessary efforts to resume the process and ensure its success by implementing Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, condemned Hamas’s brutal violence throughout Israel as well as the use of civilians as human shields, while deploring the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Welcoming the release of hostages as a first step, the bloc commends efforts of Qatar, Egypt and the United States, she said, calling for an extended humanitarian pause and the immediate release of all hostages. Recalling Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law, she expressed grave concern over the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and called for rapid and unhindered humanitarian access. Strongly condemning the upsurge in settler violence in the West Bank, she called on Israel to stop the legalization of illegal settlement expansion, underscoring the need to avoid regional escalation, including with the Palestinian Authority. Her bloc stands ready to support a revitalization of the political process based on a two-State solution.
Addressing the resolution text, she said that technical rollovers for this session do not address developments on the ground since 7 October. Nevertheless, the bloc’s voting pattern and position on terminology remain unchanged. It considers that whenever “Palestinian Government” is mentioned throughout all relevant resolutions, the term refers to the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, the term “Palestine” in resolutions under consideration by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) cannot be interpreted as the recognition of a State of Palestine. Further, the European Union does not recognize a single legal qualification for the term “forced displacement” in several resolutions, she said, calling for a streamlining of languages within them.
The representative of Argentina said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution because its essential message is linked to the illegality of the acquisition of territory by force, which is prohibited by the UN Charter. It is important to make progress towards a solution between Syria and Israel in the Middle Eastern conflict and end the occupation of the Golan Heights.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation has maintained its voting position on this resolution in line with its long-standing approach. “We believe the Golan Heights along with East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are occupied territory and we do not recognize Israel's annexation of the Golan,” he added. The United Kingdom calls on Israel as the occupying Power and all actors to uphold their obligations under international law. That is why the United Kingdom has maintained its vote in favour of the Palestinian-sponsored draft resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan in the Fourth Committee. However, today's resolution proposed by the Syrian regime repeats much of the same language and is nothing new. It is unnecessary and disproportionate, deflecting attention from the Syrian regime's own criminal actions.