UNGA adopts resolutions on Palestinian Refugees and Israeli Occupation

  PNN/ New York/The United Nations General Assembly on Friday adopted four resolutions relating to Palestinian refugees and five resolutions relating to Israel’s illegal practices in occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. All nine of these resolutions were voted against by Israel and by the United States but were successfully adopted.

The assembly recognized the ongoing work of the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which works to provide essential services to the 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in the region and its programs are gravely threatened by lack of funding and structural financial security, in part the result of the US withdrawal of funding this year.  It also expressed concern over the Agency’s financial situation, and appealing for contributions from member states.

The resolutions also recognized that the difficult socioeconomic conditions faced by Palestinian refugees in the occupied territory are partly the result of Israeli policy in the area, including construction of settlements, economic and movement restrictions, and the demolition of homes. As the UNRWA continues to attempt to protect the basic rights of refugees, this work becomes harder as the Israeli policies continue to undermine such protection and weaken the socioeconomic position of Palestinian refugees.

Alongside the resolutions for protection of refugees, the assembly also adopted resolutions demanding that Israel ‘cease all measures contrary to international law’, including the imposition of economic and movement restrictions. The International community (with the notable exception of the US) recognizes that the Israeli state is acting unlawfully, in contravention of the Geneva Convention on a multitude of counts, making reference to the killing and injury of civilians, the destruction of property, and arbitrary detention and imprisonment, amongst other things.

However, the language of the resolutions regarding the behavior and policies of the Israeli state are diplomatic, making demands rather than actively deploring the unlawful and discriminatory policies of the Israeli state.
Israel has consistently shown little respect for such General Assembly resolutions, and, particularly given the rejection of the resolutions by the US, there are good reasons to doubt that Israel will be compelled by the international community to substantively alter policy in line with these resolutions.