New York, New York
November 11, 2022
Thank you, Mr. Chair and the Bureau for your successful stewardship of this Committee. And thank you to the Secretariat for your support.
President Biden has been clear that Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live safely and securely and deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, justice, and prosperity. The United States is firmly committed to supporting the path to a two-state solution through constructive measures. A negotiated two-state solution along the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps remains the best way to ensure Israel’s security and prosperity for the future and fulfill the Palestinians’ desire for a state of their own.
We continue to have serious concerns about the slate of resolutions proposed every year in the Fourth Committee. There are no shortcuts to a two-state solution, and there is certainly nothing in the package of resolutions before the Committee today that will advance peace or create the conditions for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
We’d like to comment on the package of resolutions under Agenda Items 46 and 47. The Biden Administration opposes all resolutions that are one-sided and hold Israel to a standard not expected of other countries. The failure in these resolutions to acknowledge the shared history of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, is perhaps the clearest demonstration that they are intended only to denigrate Israel, not to help achieve peace.
Of particular concern this year is the language in the “Israeli Practices on the Human Rights of the Palestinian People” resolution on a request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. It is fundamentally inconsistent with prior UN Security Council resolutions that established negotiations as the pathway to resolving conflicts between Israel and its neighbors. A lasting and just two-state solution can only be achieved through such direct negotiations between the parties. Any measures intended to bypass the critical function of negotiations will just magnify distrust and take us further away from a two-state solution.
Accordingly, the United States strongly opposes both the request for an advisory opinion and the resolution in which it has been included. We call on other Member States to join us in voting against this package of counterproductive resolutions. The United States also encourages the General Assembly to look for a new way forward and abandon these resolutions that are biased against Israel and distract from efforts to achieve peace. We remain deeply concerned about the creation of the Commission of Inquiry last May. This also does nothing to achieve peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The decision to chart a new path can be difficult, but there are examples of bold initiatives. Several states including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco have normalized relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords and other agreements. The Negev Forum, which brings together countries at peace with Israel, is an opportunity to expand regional cooperation and integration to achieve shared security and prosperity. While negotiations were indirect and did not result in resumption of diplomatic relations, Israel and Lebanon also made the historic and difficult decision to demarcate a maritime boundary.
I would note that the United States continued our abstention on the text “Assistance to Palestinian Refugees.” The United States voted against the “Operations of UNRWA” resolution, including language inviting the Secretary General to consider increasing assessed funding to UNRWA in the UN Regular Budget. The United States remains opposed to efforts to shift UNRWA’s budget from voluntary to assessed contribution. At the same time, the United States will continue to support UNRWA and its assistance to Palestinian refugees through voluntary contributions. In fact, the United States remains the single largest donor to UNRWA. In 2022 alone, the U.S. government provided nearly $344 million to UNRWA, including critical support for education, health, and social services benefiting millions of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
We encourage all Member States to increase their voluntary financial support to UNRWA, especially those who vote in favor of this resolution but have provided precious little support to the organization. Too many states laud UNRWA without providing significant voluntary contributions to it. We call on Member States to back up their rhetorical support for UNRWA with actions.
We also continue to urge UNRWA and UN leadership to reform the agency and uphold its commitment to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence, humanity, and impartiality. We will also continue our work with UNRWA to strengthen the agency’s accountability, transparency, and consistency with UN principles.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.