Cablegate: Ga Plenary: Annual Debate: The Situation in The

DE RUCNDT #1146/01 3561519
R 221519Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The General Assembly met from November 30 -
December 2 on the "Question of Palestine" and "Situation in
the Middle East." The debate on the Question of Palestine
included speeches from the President of the General Assembly,
42 countries and the Palestine Observer Mission. Most
Speakers condemned the situation in the Palestinian
territories and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian
people. Israel noted the biased nature of the resolutions
under this agenda item and the report by the Committee on the
Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Sweden, on
behalf of the EU called for a comprehensive settlement of the
Israel-Palestine issue. The debate on the Situation in the
Middle East included speeches from 12 countries. The
majority of the speeches attacked Israeli actions, but some
also called for all sides to work towards peace. Australia
called on Hamas to end its rocket attacks on Israel and
expressed concern about a the IAEA findings of evidence that
there had been nuclear related activity in Syria. The Syrian
PermRep, in what appeared to be an unscripted right of reply,
decried Australia's "ignorance" of the reason for the General
Assembly debate on the Situation in the Middle East. He said
the debate is held to focus on Israeli occupation and
violations carried out against the Palestinian people, and
Israeli violations of the NPT. Following the debate the
General Assembly took action on six resolutions, all of which
passed by a large margin. On December 16 the General
Assembly adopted the EU-drafted resolution "Assistance to the
Palestinian People" by consensus.

2. (SBU) PGA Treki opened the three days of debate with a
statement noting that the Palestinian problem is the oldest
unresolved issue before the GA. He stated that "the fact
that the question of Palestine is still unresolved weighs
heavily on the UN." Treki noted the impact of the blockade
of the Gaza strip and the impact of "collective punishment"
on the Palestinian people. He said that the question of
Palestine is at a "critical juncture" and that a sustained
focus and reinvigoration of the peace process is needed.

The Question of Palestine

3. (SBU) The Senegalese PermRep and Chairman of the Committee
on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,
introduced the four draft resolutions under the agenda item
Question of Palestine. He stated that the situation is
"bleak" and worsening in Gaza due to last winter's Israeli
military offensive. He noted that there is no support for
settlements or Israel's claim over the whole of Jerusalem.
Senegal's PermRep stated that the Committee supports the
two-state solution and that "serious, honest and good-faith
negotiations" must be held on all permanent status issues.
The PermRep of Malta, Rapporteur of the Committee, noted that
actions of the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Cast
Lead led to allegations of violations of international
humanitarian law, and possibly "war crimes". He also noted
the effects of the blockade, calling it "suffocating".

The Situation in the Middle East

4. (SBU) The Egyptian PermRep introduced the two draft
resolutions under the agenda item the Situation in the Middle
East stating that the resolutions "are aimed at expressing
the international community's rejection of Israel's
continuing occupation and illegal activities in the occupied
Arab territories". He stated that the resolution on
Jerusalem points out settlement activities to "alter the
geographic and demographic features of the area, essentially
to annex it in order to consolidate an illegal occupation".
The Egyptian PermRep explained that the draft resolution on
the Syrian Golan calls for an end of the illegal Israeli
occupation. He noted that both resolutions are designed to
get Israel to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian
state, end the occupation of Arab territories, and end
"illegal practices".

General Debate

5. (SBU) The Palestinian Observer statement began by noting
that Palestinians do not have a country, half of the
Palestinian population continues to live as refugees, and the
other half lives under occupation. The Palestinians noted

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that Israel continues to deny the rights of the Palestinian
people and "to breach international law, including
international humanitarian law and human rights law."
Collective punishment, in the form of closures and blockades,
continues as does settlement building in East Jerusalem,
according to the Palestinian Observer Mission, but the
Palestinian leadership is making efforts towards national
unity and towards a comprehensive peace agreement. The
Palestinians called on Israel to fulfill its obligations
under the road map - including the cessation of settlement

6. (SBU) Israel noted that it absorbed Jewish refugees when
the creation of Israel in 1948 led Jewish citizens to be
expelled from Arab countries, while Arab states have not
absorbed Palestinian refugees. Israel stated that it wants
to re-enter negotiations with the Palestinians and is
"serious about its intention to pursue peace." Israel stated
that it "will discuss peace at any time, anywhere, and
without preconditions." Israel reiterated its recent
announcement of a policy of settlement restraint that
includes the suspension of new permits and construction in
the West Bank for a period of ten months. Israel opined that
Iran is the "most dangerous threat to peace in the region,"
because it exports violence, hatred and terrorism to the
region through its funding and supplying of Hizballah and

7. (SBU) Egypt, on behalf of the NAM, called for the
establishment of an independent, sovereign and viable
Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Egypt
cited the "illegal settlement activities" and the excessive
and indiscriminate use of force by Israel, as impediments to
the peace process. Egypt stressed that the situation in Gaza
is "unacceptable, un-sustainable and had negative
repercussions on all efforts to advance the peace process"
and called on Israel to open the borders to allow
humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

8. (SBU) Sweden, speaking on behalf of the EU, expressed
concerned about the lack of progress in the Middle East peace
process. The EU called on both parties to take concrete
measures to resume negotiations. The EU noted concern over
settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions in the
occupied territories and the effects of the closures on the
Gaza Strip. The EU called for a halt of rocket attacks on
Israel and the release of Gilad Shalit. The EU stated that
it will continue promoting Palestinian state building efforts
and will work with the Palestinian Authority on reform. The
EU welcomed "the positive steps taken by the Israeli
authorities regarding the easing of restrictions on the West

9. (SBU) Other notable speeches included Venezuela, Japan and
Canada. Venezuela stated that the Palestinian people are
continuing "their memorable fight against the U.S. empire,
their lackeys and the genocidal state of Israel, which runs
over, kills and attempts to exterminate the Palestinian
people." Japan called for a two-state solution and for both
sides to fulfill responsibilities under the previous
agreements. Canada stated that it respects Israel's right to
exist securely within its borders and Palestine's right to
exist. Canada noted, with optimism, Israel's announcement of
a 10 month moratorium on settlements construction in the West
Bank and condemned the sporadic rocket attacks from southern
Lebanon and Gaza.

10. (SBU) Australia stated that a two-state solution is the
only possible basis for negotiations. Australia called for
Israel to stop settlement activities and said that the
Palestinians must have a unified and viable entity to engage
in negotiations. Australia called for: Hamas to stop
rejecting Israel's right to exist, Hamas to end rocket
attacks on Israel, Israel to stop responding with
disproportionate force, and an end to arms smuggling into
Gaza and the release of Gilad Shalit. Australia also called
for respect of Lebanese sovereignty and integrity, expressed
hope that Israeli-Syrian talks would resume, and noted with
concern IAEA reports regarding finding of "undeclared nuclear
materials" in Syria.

11. (SBU) Right of Reply: Lebanon, in response to Israel's
statement, noted that Hizballah was formed because of Israeli
occupation of Lebanese territory. Syria, in response to
Australia's statement, noted that Australia "missed the point
that the on the Israeli occupation of Arab
territories and ways to put an end to the continued Israeli

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aggression against the people of the area." Syria continued
that Australia attempted to "deflect that issue by bringing
in issues that had no relevance to the item under
discussion." The Syrian PermRep, finished what appeared to
be an unscripted reply by stating that it is Israel that has
rejected IAEA inspections and Australia, by ignoring this
fact, demonstrated a serious bias.

12. (SBU) Ambassador Richard Erdman delivered the U.S.
explanation of vote (Note: The full text can be found at 9/132978.htm).
Vote tallies have been forwarded to IO/UNP.

Assistance to the Palestinian People

13. (SBU) The EU drafted resolution, Assistance to the
Palestinian People, was adopted by consensus on December 16.
Israel joined consensus, but delivered an explanation of
position. The Israeli EOP called the resolution unique
because it is "constructive" and seeks to assist Palestinians
by increasing economic and development capacities. Israel
noted "due in part to Israeli measures" economic growth in
the West Bank stands at eight percent. Israel expressed
concern that the resolution, particularly phrases referring
to assistance to the Gaza Strip, do not take Israel's
security needs into account. Israel called for the
Palestinians to return to bilateral negotiations.

14. (SBU) The Palestinian Observer Mission noted that foreign
aid and assistance is a "lifeline" for those living under
"occupation" and as refugees. The Palestinian Deputy PermRep
stated that Israeli blockade is an "obstruction of
assistance" and that most of the aid pledged at the Sharm
el-Sheikh conference has not yet reached Gaza. Further the
Palestinian statement noted that Israel's willingness to join
the consensus on the resolution "does not absolve Israel from
its responsibilities under international humanitarian and
human rights law to end the blockade."


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