Some of the most contentious issues are discussed in the Fourth Committee, among them are problems in the Middle East, the ongoing decolonization process and the dangers posed by landmines, which have killed and maimed many innocent lives. Committee Chairman Yashar Aliyev, Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations, described the Committee as "eclectic". He told the UN Chronicle that it illustrated "the divergence of the world" and gave delegates "the opportunity to deal with a number of very important issues".
In August 2005, Israel commenced its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, ending a 38-year occupation that many in the international community deemed as a positive step in the resumption of the peace process. Yet, the humanitarian and human rights situation of the Palestinian refugees "remains to be a major concern for the international community", Mr. Aliyev said.
Nadya Rasheed of Palestine said in the Committee debate that although her people viewed the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as "an important step towards reversing the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian Territory", the unilateral nature of the disengagement "failed to recognize any Palestinian concerns and left many critical issues unresolved". She added that Israel's continued construction of the Separation Wall was "making the vision of a two-State solution nearly impossible".
Ran Gidor of Israel said his country's withdrawal "demonstrated the seriousness of its commitment to peace" and allowed "the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility for its citizens' well-being". In justifying the construction of the Separation Wall, he said that Israel was able to reduce the number of road blocks along the Karni border from 600 to around 370 "due to a decrease in terrorism inside Israel, which had resulted from the construction of the security barrier".
The Committee approved a draft resolution on "Assistance to Palestine Refugees" by 161 votes to 1 (Israel), with 11 abstentions, calling on all donors to make generous efforts to meet the anticipated needs of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The issue of decolonization dominated the Committee's agenda. At the midpoint of the Second International Decade on the Eradication of Colonization (2001-2010), 16 non-self-governing territories, with a population of 2 million, still remain under colonial rule. Margaret Hughes Ferrari of Saint Vincent and...