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U.S. Response to U.N. Draft Resolution on Palestinian Women
March 13, 2012

U.S. Mission to the United Nations
John F. Sammis, United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC

New York, NY

Explanation of Vote by John Sammis, Deputy U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, at the Commission on the Status of Women on a Draft Resolution on the Situation of, and Assistance to, Palestinian Women

As Delivered

Madam Chair,

We take the floor to express our disappointment with this resolution and to explain our vote against it.

The United States, along with many of our international partners, remains committed to supporting the Palestinian people, including Palestinian women, in practical and effective ways. Our deep interest in improving humanitarian conditions is reflected in our ongoing support of vital programs that continue to break ground in integrating gender into the public reform and development process, and in creating environments that enable Palestinian women to advance and lead.

The United States is the largest bilateral donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides education, healthcare, and social and relief services to five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The U.S. government contributed more than $249 million to UNRWA in 2011, and we have contributed $55 million in 2012 thus far. The United States also contributes significant amounts to bilateral assistance and to other UN programs that assist Palestinian women and the entire Palestinian population.

We remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including reports that Hamas authorities have undertaken efforts to limit women’s freedom of movement and ability to appear in public, and that enforcement of “ethical” crimes in Gaza appears to be on an upward trend. We reiterate our support for additional efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of Gazans and will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and international partners to improve the lives of ordinary people.

In light of this, we remain troubled at this body’s insistence on including political elements and one-sided condemnations that detract from the real challenges at hand. We implore this Commission to refocus its energy toward our shared goals, as this resolution is unhelpful to all involved.

President Obama laid out in May 2011 his vision for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which would involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

Madam Chair,

Our goal remains a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East. We are working closely with the Quartet on our shared goal – resumed direct negotiations between the parties in fulfillment of the goals outlined by the Quartet last September. Only through direct negotiations can the parties address and resolve their differences and achieve lasting peace, and we support all efforts that move us in that direction.

Thank you, Madam Chair.