12 November 2003


More Time Said to Be Needed for “Mediation” on Draft

Texts on UNRWA, Israeli Practices in Occupied Territories


NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- In a brief meeting this morning, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) decided to defer action on the two items remaining on its agenda for the current session.  Draft resolutions under the two items deal with the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Israeli practices in territories occupied since 1967.

The representative of Italy, speaking for the European Union, proposed that the Committee defer action on the drafts until Thursday, 13 November.  He requested that, given the importance of the agenda items and the fact that many delegates did not have instructions on them, the vote be postponed to facilitate further mediation efforts on the texts.

The representative of the United States supported that proposal and said, he hoped that common sense would prevail on the five draft resolutions, under agenda item 83 on the work of the UNRWA.  The United States had sponsored one of the drafts, and it was his country’s intention to achieve broad support for the Agency, on a consensus resolution.  He said the United States also intended to consolidate the UNRWA draft resolutions, as part of the General Assembly’s streamlining efforts.

Noting that three Americans had recently died in Gaza attempting to assist Palestinian refugees, he said the United States, the largest single donor to Palestine refugees, had taken a leadership role on the agenda item in the General Assembly.  The United States proposal presented a “win-win” situation:  a “win” for the international community, a “win” for General Assembly reform and, most importantly, a “win” for the UNRWA and Palestinian refugees.

The Fourth Committee will meet again on Thursday, 13 November at 10 a.m., when it is expected to conclude its work for the current session.

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