56th Session Adopts Strong Package of Palestinian Resolutions

The 56th session of the U.N. General Assembly adopted a package of 19 resolutions regarding the question of Palestine by the traditional overwhelming majority of Member States. The resolutions were adopted under seven separate agenda items, in addition to two resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan under two of the items. Two other important resolutions concerning the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East were also adopted. (Since the majority of resolutions had been voted on by the Committees, but not yet by the General Assembly, as of the date of this print, a complete chart on the voting results on all the resolutions will be included in the January 2002 issue.)

The Palestinian resolutions were based on the texts of the resolutions adopted during the 55th session, with several changes made to reflect the grave deterioration of the situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000, due to the continuing Israeli military assault against the Palestinian people and Palestinian Authority. Those changes basically addressed the escalation of Israeli policies and practices in violation of rights of the Palestinian people, including in particular the excessive use of force by the occupying forces, the closures and restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinian persons and goods, and the recent seizure and reoccupation of areas under full Palestinian control.

The debates on all of the agenda items were well-attended with the majority of speakers condemning Israel’s continuing violation of international law and calling for a cessation of the excessive use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people. Repeated calls were also made by delegations for an immediate resumption of peace process negotiations.

Once again, the resolution on the "Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" received the overwhelming support of Member States. The resolution, inter alia, "reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State". As such, the resolution contained clearer language regarding a Palestinian State than past sessions with the specification of an "independent" State. Further, that resolution gained the most cosponsors of any of the Palestinian resolutions with a total of 102 countries cosponsoring it. It also received the highest number of votes in favor of all the resolutions in the package, reflecting the international community’s unwavering support of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

In sum, the resolutions of the 56th session are politically, morally and legally significant. The overwhelmingly adoption of the resolutions reaffirms the firm convictions of the international community with regard to the question of Palestine as conveyed in the words of those resolutions. In this regard, it is important to reiterate that U.N. resolutions on the question of Palestine represent international legitimacy and remain the ultimate foundation for the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the basis of any peaceful and just settlement.