28 July 2006
Economic and Social Council Adopts Resolutions on Repercussions of Israeli Occupation on Palestinians, a Smoke-Free United Nations
Also Adopts Resolution on Implementation of Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010
(Reissued as received.)
GENEVA, 27 July (UN Information Service) -- The Economic and Social Council this afternoon adopted a resolution on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.
The resolution, adopted by a roll-call vote of 45 in favour to 3 against, with 3 abstentions, called for the lifting of the severe restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people; and demanded that Israel comply with the Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed in Paris on 29 April 1994 and that it urgently transfer Palestinian tax revenues.
In another resolution on smoke-free United Nations premises, the Council recommended that the General Assembly, at its sixty-first session, consider the implementation of a complete ban on smoking at all United Nations indoor premises, at Headquarters as well as at regional and country offices throughout the United Nations system, and the implementation of a complete ban on sales of tobacco products at all United Nations premises.
Under a resolution on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least-Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010, the Council reiterated its deep concern over the insufficient progress achieved in the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 and stressed the need to address areas of weakness in its implementation.
The Council also took note of the note of the Secretary-General contained in document A/61/67-E/2006/13, and the report of the Executive Board of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women on its third session.
The representatives of the following countries made statements before and after the adoption the resolution on Palestine: Finland on behalf of the European Union, Armenia, Costa Rica, United States, Russian Federation, Japan, India, Canada, Algeria, Syria, Palestine and United Arab Emirates.
When the Council reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Friday, 28 July, it will take action on remaining draft resolutions and decisions before suspending its substantive session.
Action on Resolutions
In a resolution (E/2006/29) entitled implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least-Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010, adopted without a vote, the Council reiterates its deep concern over the insufficient progress achieved in the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 and stresses the need to address areas of weakness in its implementation; urges the least developed countries and their bilateral and multilateral development partners to undertake increased efforts and to adopt speedy measures with a view to meeting the goals and targets of the Programme of Action in a timely manner; and requests the Secretary-General to submit an annual progress report on the implementation of the Programme of Action in a more analytical and results-oriented way, by placing emphasis on the progress achieved by the least developed countries and their development partners in its implementation.
In a resolution (E/2006/L.10/Rev.1), entitled smoke-free United Nations premises, adopted without a vote, the Council recommends that the General Assembly, at its sixty-first session, consider the implementation of a complete ban on smoking at all United Nations indoor premises, at Headquarters as well as at regional and country offices throughout the United Nations system, and the implementation of a complete ban on sales of tobacco products at all United Nations premises; also recommends that the General Assembly request the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2008; and decides to continue its consideration of the agenda item entitled "tobacco or health" at its substantive session of 2008.
In a resolution (E/2006/L.32) entitled report of the Secretary-General on the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the work of the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control to the Council at its substantive session of 2008.
In a resolution (E/2006/L.17/Rev.1) entitled economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a roll call vote of 45 in favour, 3 against, and 3 abstentions, the Council calls for the lifting of the severe restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people; demands that Israel comply with the Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed in Paris on 29 April 1994 and urgently transfer Palestinian tax revenues; calls on Israel to restore and replace the destroyed civilian infrastructure; urges the full implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement of 15 November 2005; urges all parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, and to refrain from violence against the civilian population; calls upon Israel, the occupying power, to cease the dumping of all kinds of waste materials in the occupied Palestinian territory; and requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-first session, through the Economic and Social Council, a report on the implementation of the present resolution and to continue to include in the report of the United Nations Special Coordinator an update on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (45): Albania, Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Chad, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Republic of Tanzania.
Against (3): Australia, Canada and United States of America.
Abstentions (3): Czech Republic, Poland and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
VESA HIMANEN (Finland), in an explanation of the vote before the vote and speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that faced with a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation on the ground, urgent action was required. The European Union would like to stress the need for a coordinated international response to the worsening humanitarian, economic and financial situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The European Union had established a Temporary International Mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people, drawn up in consultation with Quartet members, major donors, international financial institutions and partners in the region, including the Palestinian Authority President's Office. In order to achieve an immediate impact, the mechanism would focus on essential supplies and running costs for social services and health, supply of utilities including fuel, and social allowances. The European Union invited other donors to provide funding and to consider early and substantial contributions to the international mechanism.
The European Union remained the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian territories; no one else did more. In an average year, the European Union spent around 250 million euros in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli transfers of Palestinian funds were greater than any among individual donors could provide on a regular basis. One of the most effective measures to resolve the current funding crisis would be the urgent resumption of those transfers. The European Union urged Israel to resume transfers of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues, which were essential in averting an even more pressing crisis in the Palestinian territories. The European Union was deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation between Israel and the Palestinian authorities and deplored the loss of civilian life it had brought.
ZOHRAB MNATSAKANIAN (Armenia), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Armenia was deeply concerned about the continuing escalation of violence in the Middle East, including in the occupied territories. As a result, the dire economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people had further degenerated into humanitarian catastrophe. Armenia deplored violence, and at the same time denounced the use of such disproportionate force, which resulted in the collective punishment of civilians, and the destruction of vital infrastructure. Armenia called for a cease of violence on all fronts, as this was a requirement for humanitarian operations. The transfer of tax funds to the Palestinian Authority was also an immediate priority.
LUIS A. VARELA (Costa Rica), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the right to defend oneself from any attack was allowed by international law; however, the right to defend should be exercised in a proportionate manner. The defence should be proportionate and compatible to the attacks. The recent attacks by Israel against the Palestinian people were disproportionate because of their excessive use of force aiming to destroy Government buildings and other Palestinian infrastructure. While Costa Rica was condemning the attacks of Israel, it was also condemning the acts of abductions by Palestinian elements. Due to the attacks perpetrated by Israel against Lebanon, many citizens of Costa Rica who lived in Lebanon had been trapped by the conflict. The Lebanese and other nationals had also fallen victims of the Israeli attacks. Costa Rica was worried about the slow pace of the international community in solving the crisis in the region. Costa Rica had voted in favour of the resolution.
TERRY MILLER (United States), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the United States was concerned about the economic and social hardships facing the Palestinian people, but this resolution failed to address the fundamental causes of those hardships, including the actions of the Hamas-led leadership. It did not address the need for both sides to take steps to create security, and expressed a distorted and one-sided view of the situation, condemning Israeli actions, and ignoring Palestinian actions or non-actions. The Council should focus in the future on practical steps for improving the situation of the lives of the Palestinian people and avoid politicised resolutions and debates that did nothing to encourage peace and stability.
V.V. LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation had sponsored and voted in favour of the resolution. The growing confrontation and bloodshed in the Gaza Strip was a source of concern to Russia. Israel had been destroying the Palestinian infrastructure and was creating a chaotic situation in the territory. The whole region was faced with major humanitarian disaster; the fight and the bloodshed should be immediately halted. Ending of the conflict would allow the social and economic improvement of the region.
SHIGERU ENDO (Japan), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Japan had voted in favour of the resolution, taking into account the deteriorating living conditions in the Palestinian territories. To achieve lasting peace in the Middle East, the two-state solution was the only way, and it was important to make efforts towards co-existence and co-prosperity whilst the international community continued to support those efforts. Japan was concerned about the humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people, and would continue to be engaged in the peace process. The resolution had been amended to be more balanced, and Japan had therefore voted in favour. However, it was not appropriate for the Council to vote on highly-politicised issues such as this one.
AJAI MALHOTRA (India) said India had supported the resolution because of the ongoing crisis in the region and the infliction of damage to the Palestinian territory. Traditionally, India sympathized with the cause of the Palestinian people. It was one of the major donors giving assistance to the Palestinian people. In addition to the assistance given to Palestine when the Palestinian President visited India, India was now making available 100 million dollars for humanitarian assistance to Palestine. The crisis should be resolved in a peaceful manner so that all people in the region could live together in security.
TERRY CORMIER (Canada), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said while Canada remained deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, it was disappointed with the resolution, which did not include the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership to ensure the economic and social well-being of its people. It also did not take into account the impact of the violence perpetrated by Hamas. It was not acceptable for the United Nations to be used as grounds for continual one-sided criticism of Israel. Resolutions should reflect the responsibilities of all parties.
HAMZA KHELIF (Algeria), in a statement, said Algeria had voted in favour of the resolution and regretted that it had not been adopted by consensus. The delegation wanted to know why Algeria's name was not mentioned in the text of the resolution.
ABDULMONEM ANNAN (Syria), in a general statement, said the collective efforts exerted by all who had been concerned with the resolution were appreciated. The Syrian delegation's European colleagues had shown great flexibility. Just fifteen minutes before the resolution, a crèche in the Gaza Strip was targeted by an Israeli aircraft, and 15 infants were split apart, and the parents were rushing in terror and shock to collect the bodies of their loved ones or to collect the surviving wounded. Those listening in the chamber should conclude who was the terrorist and who was not. The adoption of the resolution by an overwhelming majority was an indication of the overwhelming awareness of all that occupation had overwhelming negative effects on the people under occupation, and was indicative of the commitment to the rule of law and an effective United Nations rather than a paralysed and fangless organization as some wished it to be. The adoption of the resolution projected also the international community's commitment to the alleviation of the plight of those under occupation for the last forty years.
MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (Palestine), in a general statement, said that the adoption of the resolution with an overwhelming majority was not a victory to Palestinian people, it was just a victory of reason. The Palestinian people, children and women, were being killed by the Israeli military machinery. The killing of children was a horrible act that Israel had continued to commit on Palestinian future generations. Israel should stop its aggression and killing of innocent Palestinians. Israel should accept to live in peace and security with its Palestinian neighbour. That county had also extended its aggression and was attacking Lebanon, only to exacerbate the livelihoods of people in the region.
The Palestinian delegation paid tribute to those individuals and countries, including the President of the Council, Saudi Arabia and the European Union, who endeavoured to promote a constructive dialogue in the Council and who supported the resolution. The Palestinian delegation would cooperate in all aspects. The countries that voted against the resolution should rethink their positions and should vote positively in the future. The country that voted against the resolution and which believed in its might should understand that might was nothing.
HAMOUD NAJI HIZAN (United Arab Emirates), speaking with regards to the advancement of women, and the resolution with regards to the situation of Palestinian women, said the delegation had not been in the room when there had been a vote on this resolution, and if it had been, it would have voted in favour.
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