The United Nations, Israel and Palestine – Points of Engagement

The United Nations has been working on the question of Palestine and Israel since the first special session of the UN General Assembly on 28 April 1947, which established a body to investigate the issue and return with its recommendations. Over 60 years later, the range of the UN’s work on the issues has continued to adapt to meet new challenges and address changing realities on the ground.

Points of Engagement

The UN General Assembly, comprised of all the Member States of the United Nations, has been involved in the quest for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine since 1947.

The UN General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in 1975.

The UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council has addressed the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question on many occasions.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides education, health, relief and social services for millions of Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs established a field office (OCHA-OPT) in 2000 to enhance coordination of humanitarian assistance. OCHA-OPT provides weekly and monthly reports on the situation on the ground.

The United Nations Development Programme/Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) has gained considerable experience through its decades of efforts to assist the Palestinian people. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council has addressed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory during its regular and special sessions. It works closely with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

The World Bank provides financing for development projects, insurance for private investment, and plays a key role in donor coordination.

The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, or UNTSO, was created in 1948, the first peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations.  Other peacekeeping missions are UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) on the Golan Heights and UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon).

The United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (UNRoD) was established by the General Assembly following the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing food assistance to the Palestinians since 1991.

The work of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on the Palestinian economy is centered on research, analysis, and technical cooperation.

Presbyterian Policy

Since 1948 General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations have repeatedly addressed the Middle East and particularly Israel and Palestine. The Presbyterian position has consistently been to affirm the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state within secure, internationally recognized borders and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, including the right to the establishment of a neighboring independent, sovereign state toward the end of establishing a just and durable peace. Read actions of Assemblies from 1997 to 2010.

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