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December 01, 2012

SMS Masagos Zulkifli clarifies Singapore's abstention on UN resolution to grant Non-Member Observer State to Palestine


        Given the general interest of Singaporeans on the adoption of the resolution on “Status of Palestine in the United Nations” by the United Nations General Assembly on 29 November 2012, MFA is releasing the text of an email by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli in reply to a member of the public who had asked about Singapore's decision to abstain on the resolution.  The resolution was adopted by a vote of 138 in favour, with 9 against.  Singapore was one of 41 countries that abstained.


                        Thank you for your email seeking clarification on the reason for Singapore’s abstention on the resolution to grant Non-Member Observer State to Palestine which was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).  Please allow me to elaborate. 

2                      Singapore has consistently supported the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland. This is clearly reflected in our voting record at the United Nations.  For example, Singapore had supported General Assembly resolutions 66/17 and 66/18 of 30 November 2011 pertaining to the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and Jerusalem respectively.  We also voted in favour of resolution 67/L.29 on the right of the Palestinian people to self determination.  In fact, of the 19 resolutions on various Palestinian-related issues tabled at the UNGA since 2008, Singapore has voted in favour of eighteen while one was adopted by consensus.  It is therefore incorrect to say that Singapore does not support the Palestinian cause.     

3                      However, as mentioned in our Explanation of Vote, Singapore abstained on this latest resolution because we believe that only a negotiated settlement consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 242 can provide the basis for a viable, long term solution.  Both sides have legitimate rights and shared responsibilities, and must be prepared to make compromises to achieve the larger good of a lasting peace.  It is precisely because the rights and responsibilities of both sides are inextricably intertwined that no unilateral move can result in a just, peaceful and durable outcome.  We sincerely believe that Palestine’s aspirations are not helped by this latest unilateral move as facts on the ground will not be changed. 

4                      Nonetheless, we understand the desires of the Palestinians for an independent state and that of Israel for its security.  We share the international community’s concerns about the lack of progress in the Middle East Peace Process.  This is why we chose not to vote against the resolution.  Singapore hopes that Israel and Palestine will resume negotiations as early as possible.  We will continue to support all international efforts to facilitate a negotiated solution that will be in the long-term interests of Palestine, Israel and the region as a whole. On all international issues Singapore as a sovereign maintains a consistent and principled stand and approach of its own and not where the wind blows.

5                      On the issue of violence or oppression, Singapore has expressed publicly our deepest concern at the loss of innocent lives on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides during the recent outbreak of hostilities.  We called for an immediate ceasefire and access to humanitarian aid.  We hope that both sides will continue to uphold the latest ceasefire brokered by the Egyptian government and United Nations.  

6                      I certainly share your view that the issue of Palestine has remained unresolved for far too long.  Continued conflict in the Middle East serves no purpose and has cost so many lives on both sides. It is Singapore’s fervent hope that we will see Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security, by the rules of law, sooner rather than later. The issues facing the Palestinians seize everybody; but the solution sits with the resolve of the leadership and people on both sides to undo them.

7                     I appreciate your time writing to me on the issue. Thank you.