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Health Assembly Condemns Israeli Health Practices in Territories

The World Health Assembly’s committee of experts adopted a resolution Tuesday condemning Israel for allegedly neglecting the health needs of Palestinians in the territories it administers.

The vote was 67-2, with 32 abstentions. The United States and Israel cast the only negative votes.

The American delegate, Neil Boyer, called the resolution harsh and one-sided. He further faulted it for repeatedly referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as “Palestine,” which “implies a non-existent political status.”

Australia said it abstained because formulations such as “occupied Arab territories, including Palestine and Golan, are misleading and unacceptable in that they imply that the State of Israel is part of the occupied territories.”

The outcome of the vote was no surprise.

If anything, the delegates wanted to mollify the Palestinians for last Friday’s vote deferring for a year the Palestine Liberation Organization’s bid for full membership in the World Health Organization. The 166-nation health assembly is the WHO’s governing body.

The resolution expressed concern over the “deterioration of health conditions in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine and the Golan.”

It charged Israel does not conform to the requirements of health services and proposed that the WHO work in cooperation with “Palestine” to meet the health needs of the Palestinians.

The resolution requested the WHO’s director general to promote cooperation with the Arab states, to see to it that collaborating WHO centers are administered by Palestinians, not the “occupation authorities” and to support all Arab foundations and bodies wishing to establish hospitals and health clinics in the territories.

The Israeli delegate, Yoram Less, director general of Israel’s Health Ministry, said the ministry is considering a new policy of decentralized government health services in the territories, allowing autonomous health organizations to run them.

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