7 March UN Economic and Social Council Press Release - Commission on the Status of Women:
Approved by a recorded vote of 33 in favour to 1 against, with 9 abstentions, a resolution on assistance to Palestinian women would have the Economic and Social Council reaffirm that “the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society, and encourages all women in the region to take an active role in supporting the peace process”. "Taking note of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of 31 August 2005, regarding Palestinian women giving birth at Israeli checkpoints owing to denial of access to hospitals, and stressing the need to call for an end to this practice. "
The text calls on the international community to continue providing urgently needed assistance and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families. It further calls on “the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to support the resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, taking into account the common ground already gained”.
Reaffirming that hostage-taking, “wherever and by whomever committed, is an illegal act aimed at the destruction of human rights and is, under any circumstances, unjustifiable, including as a means to promote and protect human rights”, the Commission adopted a relevant resolution strongly urging all parties to armed conflicts to fully respect international humanitarian law and take all necessary measures to protect civilian populations as such, “including measures to prevent and combat acts of hostage-taking, and to release immediately all women and children who have been taken hostage”.
Vote on Palestinian Women
The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2008/L.3) was approved by a recorded vote of 33 in favour to 1 against, with 9 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gabon, Ghana, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Spain, Suriname, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia.
Against: United States.
Abstain: Belgium, Cameroon, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom.
Absent: Kazakhstan, Paraguay.
The United States representative said it would vote against the resolution because it was unbalanced. While the document criticized Israel’s military, it ignored the targeting by Palestinian terrorists. She regretted Palestinian loss of life, particularly in recent days, as well as Israeli deaths, which had also occurred in recent days. The resolution was inconsistent with the universal values of the Commission. Refugee issues must be negotiated by talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel ’s representative said the resolution had no place in the Commission. It was an overtly partisan and politically motivated resolution. The resolution, as it was, without addressing the internal Palestinian situation of human rights abuse and terrorism, left much to be desired. She called upon Member States to oppose the resolution.
Germany ’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, called on the parties in the region to make every effort to improve the situation of Palestinian women. She acknowledged efforts by the Palestinian delegation to improve the text. The European Union still had reservations, as it did last year, over the appropriateness of the forum in which the resolution was discussed.
Palestine ’s representative, in a general statement after the vote, thanked the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and others who supported the resolution, saying they had sent a strong show of support to Palestinian women and their families. She expressed regret that some European Union members had abstained, except Spain, which had supported the text and demonstrated a principled position. Palestine had deliberated with the European Union in good faith. Support for Palestinian women was crucial, she said, noting that, in the past week, 120 Palestinians, among them dozens of women and children, had been killed by Israel forces.