At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s seventy sixth session, held yesterday, 9 December, the Assembly voted through a number of resolutions concerning Palestine.
The 193-member Assembly adopted three draft resolutions relating to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
One of the three resolutions, entitled “Assistance to Palestine refugees”, received 164 favourable votes, with only Israel against, with abstentions from the United States and Canada, amongst several other member states.
Last month, during preliminary voting, the Biden administration shifted from the previous US administration’s position of an automatic ‘No’ vote for all such resolutions. Biden’s move marks a return to the Obama-era custom of abstaining on the UNRWA’s broad text, which comes before the Assembly every year.
According to the newly adopted resolution, the General Assembly is “(a)ware of the fact that, for more than seven decades, the Palestine refugees have suffered from the loss of their homes, lands and means of livelihood”.
The text affirms “the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees for the achievement of justice and for the achievement of lasting peace in the region.”
The “Assistance to Palestine refugees” resolution is understood by the Palestinian Authority, amongst other groups, as affirming Palestinians’ right of return.
The resolution itself “(n)otes with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III), has not yet been effected, and that, therefore, the situation of the Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern and the Palestine refugees continue to require assistance to meet basic health, education and living needs”.
The draft text mentioned UNRWA’s “severe financial crisis”, in part due to the former US president Trump’s cutting of funding to the agency.
At the same General Assembly session, member states passed a resolution concerning Israeli activities in the occupied territories. A resolution entitled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” passed with 80-member state in favour, and 18 against. 73 abstentions were recorded.
According to the UN’s own summary, the same resolution, “express[es] grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures and called for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall, among other measures.”
Pro-Palestine sentiment was recently expressed by politicians across Europe.
On 7 December, 370 European MPs and MEPs sent an open letter to Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign policy official, calling on “Europe to take immediate and concrete steps to prevent the displacement and forcible transfer of Palestinian families, especially in East Jerusalem.”