Explanation of Vote by U.S. Senior Advisor Richard Erdman, on the Question of Palestine, in the General Assembly Hall

Richard Erdman
United States Senior Advisor 
New York, NY
December 2, 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.

Therefore, we are deeply saddened to once again be presented with unbalanced resolutions that—unlike the General Assembly’s action with respect to any other member state, geographic area or issue—places demands on Israel while failing to acknowledge that both sides have obligations and must take difficult steps.  While the United States accepts the principle that the General Assembly may look into the practices of individual states, the 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.

Of particular concern to the United States are three resolutions concerning entities established more than a generation ago that perpetuate institutional bias.  The millions of dollars expended on the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, could be better directed toward more pressing issues, including direct assistance to needy Palestinians, as could the staff resources taken up by these entities.  The United States provides 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 reiterate our call for all member states to review seriously the continued existence of these bodies with a sharp focus on what, if anything, they actually contribute towards a solution to the Middle East conflict.

Mr. President, in addition to these three resolutions, the General Assembly will consider other resolutions that prejudge the outcome of permanent status issues.  These issues properly belong in bilateral negotiations.  Resolutions such as these call into question the credibility of the United Nations, which, through the Quartet, has an important role to play in supporting the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome, that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinians’ goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed territorial swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and that meet Israeli security requirements.  Our commitment to achieving a solution with two states living side-by-side in peace is unwavering.

Thank you.



PRN: 2009/290