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UNGA votes on draft resolutions addressing Palestinian issues

December 8, 2016 at 6:55 pm

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted a number of draft resolutions addressing Israeli-Palestinian issues and the rights of colonised people on Tuesday.

According to a statement by the international body, the UNGA narrowly adopted a draft called “Work of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories,” intended to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

In the draft, the assembly condemned the “critical situation” in the occupied Palestinian territory, and denounced illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the nearly decade-long Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, and Israel’s “indiscriminate use of force and military operations against the civilian population”.

The text received 91 votes in favour, 11 against, with 73 abstentions.

The assembly also brought to a vote a draft resolution urging for an increase in member states’ contributions to UNRWA, the UN agency which assists Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Middle East, which was adopted by a wide margin, with 167 votes in favour, five abstentions, and six votes against – Israel, the United States, Canada, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia.

UNRWA has faced serious financial hardships in past years, as the organisation faced the largest financial setback in its history last year with a recorded deficit of $100 million.

The UN statement went on to list seven other drafts which were adopted by the GA on Tuesday related to Israeli-Palestinian issues, which included drafts on assistance to Palestinian refugees and their properties, Palestinians displaced from 1967 onward, illegal Israeli settlements, Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, a resolution regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, as well as a text on the application of the Geneva Convention – specifically regarding the protection of civilians during times of war – to the occupied Palestinian territory.

The UNGA also adopted 22 texts regarding the issue of decolonisation, including one entitled “Implementation of the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations,” which urged the UN to provide moral and material assistance to “peoples of non-self-governing territories.” The draft was adopted with 125 votes in favour and 55 abstentions.

While the UNGA – in which every member country has an equal vote – has historically stood in support of Palestinians, its resolutions are generally non-binding. The most impactful UN institution is the UN Security Council, in which the United States has regularly used its veto power to halt texts deemed too critical of Israel.