Explanation of Vote by John F. Sammis, United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, in the Third Committee of the Sixty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on L.56 - The right of the Palestinian People to Self-Determination

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 12, 2009


With respect to the situation in the Middle East, the United States has clearly stated our policy that there should be two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.  We back up our policy by substantial diplomatic support for both sides and significant financial support to the Palestinian Authority and to the Palestinian refugees receiving support from UNRWA, for which the United States is the largest single donor.

We see no contradiction whatsoever between support for the Palestinian people and support for Israel.  We are deeply discouraged, therefore, to once again be presented with an unbalanced resolution that--unlike the UNGA's action with respect to any other member state, geographic area or issue--places demands on the Israeli side while failing to acknowledge that both sides have obligations and must take difficult steps toward peace.

Resolutions such as this one presuppose the outcome of permanent status issues, such as the right of return and the status of Jerusalem, that properly belong in bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, making it that much more difficult to resolve them.  Resolutions such as this one also undermine the institutional credibility of the UN, which, through the Quartet, has an important role to play in supporting the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.


PRN: 2009/267