General Assembly: 41st Plenary Meeting, 76th Session

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01-Dec-2021 03:36:20
Adopting 3 Middle East drafts, General Assembly calls for launching credible talks on final status issues, respecting historic status quo of Jerusalem holy sites.

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Adopting three resolutions by recorded vote on the questions of Palestine and the Middle East, the General Assembly today called for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem and stressed the need to urgently exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process.

Through the terms of the text titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, the Assembly reiterated its call for the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. By further terms, it also called upon Israel to cease all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and called upon all States not to recognize any changes to the pre‑1967 borders and not to render aid or assistance to illegal settlement activities.

Also adopted was a resolution titled “Jerusalem”, in which the Assembly reiterated its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal. Recalling the 2015 Security Council press statement on Jerusalem, in which the Council called for upholding unchanged the historic status quo at the Haram al‑Sharif, the Assembly stressed that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of the City of Jerusalem should take into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

By the terms of a resolution titled “The Syrian Golan”, the Assembly declared that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void and demanded that Israel withdraw from the territory.

Speaking in explanation of positions before and after the adoptions, delegates expressed various reservations. The representative of the United States said that the resolution concerning “Jerusalem” only references Haram al‑Sharif rather than “Haram al‑Sharif/Temple Mount”, which recognizes the shared history of the holy site. It is morally, historically and politically wrong for the Assembly to support language that denies both the Jewish and Muslim connections to the Temple Mount and Haram al‑Sharif, he said.

Albania’s delegate, who abstained on that vote, explained that despite agreeing with it in substance, “we would have preferred a more balanced terminology” on the sensitive issue of the holy places in Jerusalem. Australia’s representative said her country is opposed to one‑sided resolutions that single out Israel and called for further changes in language to the Palestinian package of resolutions.

Prior to action, the representative of Israel said that by voting in favour of these resolutions, the international community is directly contributing to prolonging the conflict. Stressing that the three resolutions have only one purpose, which is to demonize his country, he called it the only vibrant democracy in the Middle East and a beacon of human rights. The Abraham Accords have created real people‑to‑people peace but instead of seizing the opportunity, Palestinian leadership opposed it, he said. The resolution on Jerusalem calls to maintain the status quo in Jerusalem but does the exact opposite by referring to the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, only by its Muslim name, he said. But the bond between the Jewish people and their capital would never be erased, he stressed.

“No one is more exhausted than our people,” the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said during the debate. Injustice and loss have defined Palestinian existence across generations, he said, detailing how Palestinian civilians are being killed and injured and their homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes while settler militias act as mercenaries for the occupation. Highlighting the resilience shown by the Palestinian people, including during the conflict in May, he said that Israel, under cover of platitudes, is escalating its violations. That country cannot be allowed to continue its security rhetoric and false accusations, he said, also taking the floor after action to add that the language concerning Jerusalem is in line with the position adopted by the Security Council and voted in favour by all its 15 members.

The representative of Egypt recalled his country’s natural historic role in negotiating a ceasefire during the escalation of conflict in the Gaza Strip in May. The problem could explode again at any minute, he cautioned, stressing the need to resuscitate the peace negotiations, including by holding a ministerial meeting of the Quartet and by deploying efforts to re‑establish trust between the two sides.

South Africa’s delegate drew attention to Israel’s recent designation of six Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist organizations. That is unjustified, he said, calling on Israel to give human rights organizations access to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and interrogation centres.

Norway’s delegate noted positive signs including the resumption of contact between the Palestinian Authority and the new Israeli Government. Both parties participated in the recent ministerial meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Oslo, he said, stressing the importance of strengthening the Palestinian economy.

The Assembly also heard from Abdulla Shahid, President of the Assembly, who reminded delegates that mere words are of no use to Palestinian people as they suffer decades of occupation, arbitrary arrests and illegal settlements. Drawing attention to the shortfall in the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he added: “At stake is not only the region’s peace and security, but our ability to come together as a global community.”

Also speaking today were representatives of Namibia, Malaysia, Jordan, Maldives, India, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Oman, China, Japan, Morocco, Qatar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Argentina, Tunisia, Indonesia, Guyana, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Haiti, Iran, United Kingdom, and Brazil, as well as the European Union.

The representative of Syria also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 December, to consider the topics of sport for development and peace as well as implementation of and follow‑up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.

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