Explanation of vote by Richard Erdman, US Senior Advisor, on agenda item 27, the Question of Palestine, in the General Assembly

Richard Erdman
United States Senior Advisor 
New York, NY
November 30, 2010




AS DELIVERED

Thank you Mr. President, with respect to the situation in the Middle East, the United States is working vigorously toward a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, resulting in two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

In this context, we are once again disheartened to be presented with unbalanced resolutions that place demands on Israel, but fail to acknowledge the obligations and difficult steps required of both sides. The resolutions under today’s agenda items -- in combination with thirteen other resolutions that will come before the General Assembly once again this year clearly illustrate a pattern of institutional bias directed at one UN member state. That pattern is unlike the General Assembly’s handling of any other issue.  These resolutions are biased, wasteful, redundant, and do nothing to advance the peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict that we all seek.

Let me again highlight three annual resolutions that renew the mandate of UN bodies established more than a generation ago and that perpetuate this institutional bias.  The resources expended by 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, should be directed toward more pressing issues, including direct assistance to Palestinians.

We reiterate our call for all member states to review seriously how, if at all, the continued existence of these bodies actually contributes to a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mr. President, the resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks presuppose the outcome of permanent status negotiations  making it that much more difficult for the parties to resolve them.  These issues properly belong in bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The United States is committed to working with the parties to achieve a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, including a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian 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 meet Israeli security requirements.  Those who want a Palestinian state should do all they can to support the parties’ efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace and should do nothing to hinder them.

Again, the United States sees no contradiction whatsoever between support for the Palestinian people and support for Israel.  The United States recently announced an additional $150 million in direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, bringing our total direct budget support for the year to $225 million.  In addition, the United States remains the largest single donor to UNRWA, having contributed $237.8 million to date in 2010.

It is impossible to see how supporting the resolutions before us today contributes to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.  We cannot support these resolutions, but we will remain focused on direct negotiations the only means by which the parties will be able to conclude an agreement to achieve Palestinian aspirations
for sovereignty while ensuring Israel’s long-term security.

Thank you.

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PRN: 2010/301