Cablegate: Unga Voting Instruction: Situation in the Middle
DE RUEHC #3513 3260348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210342Z NOV 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM IMMEDIATE 0000
UNCLAS STATE 123513
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM UNGA IS PA WE GZ SY
SUBJECT: UNGA VOTING INSTRUCTION: SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE
EAST; QUESTION OF PALESTINE
REF: STATE 123018
SUBJECT: UNGA Voting Instruction: Situation in the Middle
East; Question of Palestine
1. This is an action request. See paragraph 2.
2. USDel is instructed to vote against the following six
UNGA resolutions under the agenda items 15, "The Situation
in the Middle East," and 16, "Question of Palestine."
USDel may call for a vote on any of these resolutions if
no other member does so, and should deliver the
Explanation of Vote at paragraph 3 in conjunction with the
-- "The Syrian Golan;"
-- "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of
the Palestinian People;"
-- "Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat;"
-- "Special Information Programme on the Question of
Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the
-- "Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine."
3. EOV on the Agenda Item "Question of Palestine": Mr.
Chairman. The four resolutions under this agenda item -- in
combination with over fifteen other resolutions that will come
before the General Assembly this year, as every year -- form a
clear pattern of institutional bias directed at one member
state of the United Nations.
The United States has clearly stated our policy that there
should be two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living
side by side in peace and security. We back up our policy
by substantial diplomatic support for both sides consistent
with the process launched in Annapolis in November 2007. We
also contribute very significant financial and programmatic
support to the Palestinian Authority and to Palestinian
refugees, for whom the United States is the largest single-
We see no contradiction whatsoever between support for
the Palestinian people and support for Israel. Both sides
need support to be able to take the steps necessary for a
just and lasting peace.
Each year, therefore, we are appalled and discouraged
as the UN General Assembly unhelpfully takes up a
disproportionate number of resolutions related to the
Middle East -- all unbalanced by their explicit or
implicit one-sided criticism of Israel.
Mr. Chairman, the resolutions discussed under this and
other upcoming agenda items entitled the "Situation in the
Middle East," the "Report of the Special Committee to
Investigate Israeli Practices Effecting the Human Rights
of the Palestinian People," the "Permanent Sovereignty of
the Palestinian People" and others are repetitive and
unbalanced. They are completely unlike the General
Assembly's action with respect to any other member state,
geographic area, or issue. They place demands on the
Israeli side while failing to acknowledge that both sides
have obligations and must take difficult steps towards
peace that can only be resolved through negotiations
between the parties.
The United States accepts the principle that the General
Assembly may look into the practices of individual states.
However, last year the Assembly adopted fourteen
resolutions specifically critical of Israel, and seven
more expressing support for the Palestinian people
vis-a-vis their relationship to Israel. In that same
year, the Assembly adopted only six resolutions
specifically critical of any member state other than
Israel; we supported some of these and opposed others.
All told, the 21 resolutions addressing alleged Israeli
violations and obligations took up 61 pages of text,
compared to 20 pages for resolutions critical of the six
other nations. The Assembly is on a course to follow the
same pattern again this year.
Mr. Chairman, whatever the merits of the issue, this
represents an extraordinarily disproportionate and
unjustified focus on one member state. The situation in
the Middle East is an important matter, but looked at in
relation to the overall problems facing the planet, this
matter does not warrant three-quarters of the time and
energy the General Assembly devotes to critical review of
the actions of its 192 member states.
Of particular concern to the United States are two resolutions
adopted today -- the "Division for Palestinian Rights of
the Secretariat" and the "Committee on the Exercise of the
Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People," and one
that will be considered under agenda item 30, the "Work of
the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices
Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and
Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories."
These entities, established more than a generation ago,
perpetuate and institutionalize the perception of inherent
UN bias. By their very nature, they fail to properly
demand actions from both sides, only Israel. The millions
of dollars expended on them and significant staff
contributions towards them could be better directed to
more pressing needs, including direct assistance to needy
The time has come for the Assembly to review these bodies
in light of their actual contribution, or lack thereof,
towards a solution to the conflict in the Middle East,
consistent with the overall program for UN reform.
Mr. Chairman, these institutional arrangements, backed by
nearly two dozen one-sided resolutions, serve more to
undercut than to assist ongoing negotiations. They
undermine the credibility of the UN, which, as a member of
the Quartet, must be seen by both sides as an honest
broker in facilitating a resolution to the Middle East
They have no positive effect in helping to achieve a just
resolution of the conflict. Indeed, they can have a
serious corrosive effect both by convincing many on the
Israeli side that they will be treated unfairly by the UN no
matter what compromises they may offer, and by convincing
extremist elements on the Palestinian side such as Hamas,
that they will not be criticized no matter what they do, up to
and including terrorist attacks intentionally targeting
civilians. Certainly, they add nothing to the far more
detailed, up-to-date monthly discussions of the Security
Council on the situation in the Middle East.
Finally, these resolutions presuppose the outcome of
permanent status issues, such as the return of refugees,
checkpoints, and settlement activity, that properly belong
in ongoing bilateral negotiations. In their November 9
briefing to the Quartet, the Palestinian and Israeli
negotiators pledged to continue bilateral talks until they
achieve their goal of a comprehensive agreement on all
issues, without exception, as agreed at Annapolis. Both
sides attested the negotiating structure is effective and
productive and they intend to keep it in place. They
noted, I wish to emphasize, that third parties should not
intervene in the negotiations absent the joint request of
Mr. Chairman, the United States is acutely aware of the
suffering of the Palestinian people. We have been and
will continue to be at the forefront of international
efforts to address the underlying causes. But it is
impossible to see how supporting resolutions so detached
from the reality on the ground, and so intrusive into the
substance of sensitive, ongoing negotiations, will either
alleviate that suffering or contribute to a solution.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.