In 2004, the State of Israel marked the 55th anniversary of its membership in the United Nations. Since 1949, it has maintained friendly diplomatic relations with the majority of the world’s states. Israel’s foreign policy has been geared to the advancement of peace in the region while at the same time ensuring the country’s security. It has sought to promote cooperation with all nations, while always remembering centuries of anti-Semitism and persecution, the shattering experience of the Holocaust, and the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict.
Middle East Peace Process
The State of Israel is committed to the peace process and endeavors to reach an agreement with the Palestinian people. However, the Government of Israel has reached the conclusion that there is currently no partner among the Palestinian leadership with whom progress can be made on a bilateral basis. Israel has therefore drawn up a four-stage disengagement plan under which Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip, including all Israeli settlements, and will redeploy outside the areas of the Strip, by the end of 2005.
The security fence currently being built between Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli population centers is a defensive, temporary and reversible measure. It is designed to prevent suicide bombers from carrying out attacks in Israel. It does not attempt in any way to mark a future border – an issue reserved for negotiations between the two sides. The fence does not change the status of Palestinian residents and lands in these areas. In the months since the fence was erected it has become clear that the fence is effective. There has been a reduction of over 90% in successful terrorist attacks, and a 70% reduction in Israeli citizens killed from terror attacks.
Many countries submitted detailed documents to the International Court of Justice noting that the request for an advisory opinion was inappropriate, a misuse of the advisory opinion procedure, and damaging to the Road Map process. Israel continues to believe the General Assembly put the wrong question before the wrong body.
Israel’s Supreme Court has made its own recommendations regarding the planned route of the security fence. On June 30th 2004, the court emphasized that it "reached the conclusion that the consideration for building the fence was security". At the same time, the court emphasized that the route must take into account humanitarian considerations and a balance must be created between these two issues. Accordingly, the court ruled that the Israeli government must reroute the planned fence in the northern Jerusalem area to balance those interests.
Reexamination of the Route of the Fence
The Israeli government is now reexamining the entire route of the fence to ensure that it complies with the ruling of Israel’s Supreme Court, while providing the Israeli population with the necessary defense against terror attacks. The re-examination has already led to decisions to reroute large portions of the fence.
Israel hopes that member states will reject further escalation and resolutions on the issue. Our hope is that the Middle East agenda of the UNGA will stop the biased anti-Israel activity and will reemphasize the essential immediate steps the two sides have to take: ending terror and violence, and encouraging the Disengagement Plan and the Road Map process. It is our hope that these steps will lead to the renewal of the dialogue toward a solution between the parties.
General Assembly Resolutions
For more than three decades, the General Assembly has annually adopted a litany of resolutions designed to discredit Israel, challenge its interests, and promote a one sided political agenda. No other country within the UN system has faced such singling-out and consistent discrimination. The time has come to end this campaign of diplomatic incitement and political hijacking of the agenda of the GA, and to stop the attempt to delegitimize the right of the Jewish people to a secure state of their own.
Israel is of the view that the number of annual resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict should be significantly reduced. Israel calls upon the General Assembly to re-examine the automatic adoption of anti-Israel resolutions. The Assembly must instead seek ways to make itself relevant once again to serve the interests of the people it claims to serve, and for the promotion of a dialogue towards a solution in the Middle East.
Following the adoption of the Plan of Implementation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002, the Government of Israel adopted a decision requiring all relevant Ministries to prepare Strategies for Sustainable Development. The decision specified a public participatory process, and has also established an Inter-ministerial Committee including a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders: NGO’s, the private commercial sector, Local Authorities and the Scientific Community.
Ministries within the Israeli Government have reported to the Committee on measures taken in relation to the relevant principles of sustainable development, and are now in the process of presenting their triennial strategies. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment are leading the process.
Israel believes that this process of partnership and dialogue is essential to achieving of integration of sustainable development into policy making. It is Israel’s intention to broaden its involvement in the coming 59th UNGA.
Non-proliferation, Arms Control & Combating Terrorism
The international effort to reduce and eliminate strategic threats to international and regional peace and security, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terrorism, has faced significant new and grave challenges over the past year.
The General Assembly has an important role in creating an international atmosphere of non-tolerance regarding proliferators, terrorists and their supporters. The UNGA can promote this goal by enhancing international norms for cooperation in counter terrorism activities and by calling for improved national control policies over sensitive technologies, materials and know-how and their exports.
Special attention should be devoted to preventing the transfers of MANPADS, small arms and sensitive technologies to non-state actors, particularly terrorist groups. The UNGA should reject efforts to make a distinction between different types of terrorism. It should also strive to underline the close links between terrorism and organized crime, including drug trafficking. Moreover, the UNGA could promote international cooperation of efforts in dealing with the problem of suicide bombings and incitement to terror and hatred.
The UN Member States must deliver a clear message that non-compliance of States with international arm-control commitments and obligations are unacceptable, particularly when such states are involved in terrorism and proliferation.
The precipitous rise in anti-Semitic incidents over the last three years is a matter of grave concern for all. It is necessary for the United Nations to convey, in the strongest possible terms, that antisemitism is an odious phenomenon which has no place among the family of nations.
The OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism in Berlin on April 28th, 2004 led to the adoption of the "Berlin Declaration", a united expression of 55 states against antisemitism. Israel believes that the "Berlin Declaration" should become a cornerstone in the international discourse about, and the struggle against, antisemitism, racism, bigotry and intolerance.
Overseas Development Assistance
Israel’s official overseas development cooperation was launched in 1958 with the aim of sharing with the rest of the developing world the know-how and technologies which provided the basis for Israel’s own rapid development. What started as a modest program focused on grassroots-level human capacity building – at a time when Israel itself was still a developing country – has blossomed into an extensive program of cooperation throughout the developing world with the aim of promoting sustainable development and social equity.
Since 1958, the Center for International Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry of Israel, has trained almost 200,000 course participants from approximately 140 countries, both in Israel and abroad. Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs as well as citizens from Arab countries are among those trainees. The center has also developed dozens of demonstration projects worldwide in areas of Israeli expertise. During this time, while technologies and methodologies transferred have advanced for the 21st century, the unique principles which guide Israel’s cooperation have remained the same.
To demonstrate the importance Israel attaches to the preparatory process of the World Summit of Information Society, it has convened a steering committee of top experts from the academic, private and governmental sectors. Israel plans to further its active involvement in and contribution to the preparation of the summit documents and the success of the WSIS.
Israel recognizes the importance of small business and micro-credit’s contribution to poverty alleviation and supports UNGA resolution A/58/488 on the implementation of the first United Nations decade for the Eradication of Poverty. Israel believes that non-governmental organizations, as well as the business sector, are key actors in promoting the access of people from rural and urban areas to micro-credit and micro-finance, and is prepared to take part in the efforts of the World Community to enhance these provisions.
Israel offers, as part of its cooperation programs in developing and least developed countries, courses on integrated approach for the development of rural areas and on micro enterprises as tools in local economic development. Israel is planning to introduce new ideas on the matter in the framework of the year of Micro-credit in the United Nations.
Israel believes that the international community’s response to the HIV/AIDS scourge must be multifaceted, dealing not only with prevention and treatment but also with its grave socio-economic consequences.
Israel desires to put its unique expertise at the disposal of the international community and the countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. Israel’s own experience in absorbing large number of orphan refugee children after the Holocaust can serve in the quest for creative solutions for today’s HIV/AIDS orphans. Israel’s revolutionary low-cost agricultural systems can enable families who have been stricken by AIDS to continue to provide for their own basic needs. Israel’s expertise in dealing with societies in trauma could be harnessed to help alleviate the social consequences of AIDS.
During the 1960’s Israel was among the first countries to devote its goodwill and overseas assistance to newly independent countries in Africa. Our new allies reciprocated with friendship and moral support for the State of Israel.
In the coming year, as in previous ones, Israel is seeking to continue strengthening its relations with African countries and is planning to broaden its international cooperation in various fields which are of greatest interest to those countries, in particular food security, medicine and public health, socio economic development, gender empowerment and poverty eradication, as well as in rural and urban development and small and medium enterprises.
Israel expresses its deep concern and sorrow in the face of the humanitarian crisis occurring in the Darfur Region of west Sudan. As a people that have suffered greatly in the past, we cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of others.
Persons with Disabilities
The Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities is a reflection of the international community’s recognition of the pressing need for major advances towards full equality and the integration for persons with disabilities.
The Government of Israel is committed to achieving this goal and has contributed to the work of the Ad Hoc Committee. Israel favors the detailed approach that appears in the draft convention; our own legislation has adopted the same approach. The Israeli legislation covers all aspects of life, recognizing that people with disabilities have the right to live fully within society, without discrimination, segregation, and patronizing attitudes.
Reforming and Financing of the UN System
Member states should endeavor to make the United Nations a more effective instrument for fulfilling world aspirations. Israel believes that the world body is indeed an indispensable tool, which is part of our everyday lives. Israel takes an active role in the work of the organization and is ready to enhance its part during this coming UNGA.
Reform measures in the UN should be focused on the work of the General Assembly and its main committees as well as on the economic and social work of the organization. As already mentioned above, Israel attaches great importance to the revitalization and the reordering of the work of the General Assembly, inter alia, by the review of its agenda and by eliminating some of its items.
ECOSOC should become more vital and relevant, should convene more frequently and must be able to respond more rapidly and effectively to the ever growing challenges of the developing world. Israel believes that only by close coordination and better cooperation among UN programs, specialized agencies and financial institutions, will ECOSOC be able to reach its targets – for the sake of mankind.