Monday, December 10, 2012

Israel drafted a General Assembly resolution to promote entrepreneurship.

While it did pass overwhelmingly, 129-31, the Arab countries voted as a bloc against it.

Only because it was submitted by Israel.

The reasons the Arabs gave for opposing it were quite funny:

RABEE JAWHARA ( Syria), making a general statement, said Israel was attempting to monopolize the Second Committee’s work by submitting draft resolutions that portrayed it as a peaceful State seeking to work within the United Nations. However, such drafts did not camouflage Israel’s human rights violations and occupation, he stressed, pointing out that, even as it submitted the text, Israel restricted any chance of entrepreneurship in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. It was guilty of several examples of policies that restricted business and economic growth in Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan, and had continuously failed to comply with United Nations resolutions. He urged Committee members to vote against the draft so as to send a signal that Israeli must end the occupation.

AMER HIAL AL-HAJRI (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, noted that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had shown that Israel’s occupation continued to undermine the rights of Palestinians, particularly their ability to engage in entrepreneurship. The Arab Group had proposed changes to ensure balance in the text, but had been unable to achieve that, he said. As such, it was obliged to vote against the draft resolution.

MOHAMED KHALIL HUSSEIN (Egypt) also said the text lacked balance, particularly given its focus on national policies for entrepreneurship, and did not take into account the need to create an internationally conducive climate and to establish support in that regard. A multilateral, transparent and open regime was needed, with no barriers in the way of developing countries. Finance, the transfer of technology and capacity-building must also be included, he said.

The draft resolution also failed to take into account the conclusions of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report on the condition of the Palestinian people, he continued. It showed that Israel’s occupation and blockade undermined opportunities for marketing and drained natural resources, meaning that the area lacked necessary land for production. That discouraged private investment and increased risks and production costs.

He said his delegation had tried to address the imbalances mentioned by taking part in discussions, but agreement on implementation had proven impossible because developed countries had changed their position at the last minute. The co-sponsors had ignored the UNCTAD reports, but Egypt was unable to ignore them, especially since the draft sought to promote entrepreneurship internationally, he said. As such, Egypt would vote against the draft.
The fact that the Arabs would vote against it was never in doubt. Their only disagreements were what reason to give for the record.

Ron Prosor gave a zinger to those opposed to the resolution:
RON PROSOR ( Israel) said entrepreneurship offered developing communities the best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty. The actions of entrepreneurs had a ripple effect, unlocking minds and inspiring others to pursue their dreams. By adopting the draft resolution, the Committee was sending a clear and simple message that entrepreneurship was a primary pathway to sustainable economic growth.

He went on to say that while he had hoped for consensus, the Arab Group had been committed to voting against it even before negotiations had ended. Recalling that people in the Arab world had risen against their Governments precisely because they wanted better conditions, he said that by failing to respond, Arab Governments had “turned their backs on their own people” and sent a clear message that they cared far more about “petty politics than human prosperity”. Israel’s achievements were the result of close collaboration between business and Government, he said, adding that stability required people’s empowerment.

(While there is no written record of what changes the Arabs wanted to make to the resolution to make it more "balanced," almost certainly they wanted to hijack it and turn it into an resolution bashing Israel.)

(h/t Margie)

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