|HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES SITUATION IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES IN CONTEXT OF FOLLOW-UP OF ITS DECISIONS|
29 September 2006
The Human Rights Council this afternoon discussed the follow-up of decisions and resolutions taken at its first session and the first and second special sessions and heard a follow-up report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said on 6 July 2006, the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution in which it decided to “dispatch an urgent fact-finding mission headed by the Special Rapporteur”. As there was no reply by the Israeli Government to requests for consent to a fact-finding mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, he had been unable to head that mission as required by the Council. He did however compile a report on the situation in Gaza, from which it was clear that concerns were well founded.
Since 25 June, the Special Rapporteur said, Israel had been engaged in a brutal military operation in Gaza, characterised by bombings, sonic booms, military incursions and targeted assassinations. There was a humanitarian crisis resulting from the destruction of the major power plant, the closure of borders, and poverty. Israeli action had failed to discriminate between militants and civilians. In summary, Israel’s action in Gaza constituted collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and the disproportionate attacks on civilians constituted war crimes.
Israel, speaking as a concerned country, said Israel had had high hopes that the Council would exceed the low expectations and double standards of the Commission. Yet, the resolutions and reports that had been issued by the Council since its very beginning had proven otherwise and had emphasized its one-sided and imbalanced nature. Only one country had been singled out by resolution, while the Council had failed to address the grave situations in other parts of the world. Even worse, two special sessions had been dedicated to alleged human rights violations of Israel, which failed to address the simple facts which led to Israel’s actions in self-defence: the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas Qassam rockets and Hizbollah’s Katushya rockets on Israel towns and villages, two renown terrorist organizations. Such blatant omissions cast a black stain on the legitimacy of the good faith and objectivity of the Council.
Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories constituted the most flagrant violation of human rights, which should be given due attention by the esteemed Council. The list of Israeli breaches and infringements of most principles enshrined in international law was open-ended, including continuous bombardment of civilians, sonic bombs, military incursions, shelling and destruction of vital infrastructure, house demolitions, sporadic house arrests, land confiscation, economic siege and closures, which had dire consequences on food and medical supplies. In addition to this list of punitive Israeli measures, the construction of the Wall compounded the suffering of the Palestinian people and generated, inter alia, forced internal displacement of Palestinians.
Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said there was great concern for the deterioration of the situation in Gaza and the Golan, before the eyes of the international community that was doing nothing to defend the breaches of many Conventions, including the Geneva Convention. The modern media has been broadcasting live what was happening, showing the crimes being perpetrated. The Council should leave behind the mentality and mechanisms of the double standards of the Commission, the enormous paperwork that gave no results, and the resolutions that were never implemented. The Council should prove its credibility to defend the weak and the vulnerable.
During the general debate on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, many speakers urged the resumption of the peace process, in the context of the Road Map, and under the aegis of the Quartet. A two-State solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital, was, many delegations said, the only solution for long-lasting peace and stability in the Middle East as a whole. Many also pointed out the vital importance, for the credibility of the Council, for its resolutions and decisions to be implemented and respected by Israel. The international community should put pressure on Israel in this regard, several delegates said.
Speaking in the context of the general debate were the representatives of Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Finland for the European Union, Malaysia, Indonesia, Senegal, Cuba, Mali, Bangladesh, Canada, Mexico, Russian Federation, China, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, United States, and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
In right of reply, the representatives of Israel and Syria spoke.
Also speaking were : United Nations Watch, Amnesty International in a joint statement with Human Rights Watch, Al-haq law in the service of man, B'nai B'rith in a joint statement with Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations, Women's International Zionist Organization, Organization for Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America in a joint statement with Federation of Cuban Women and National Union of Jurists of Cuba, International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” in a joint statement with World Peace Council.
The next public meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. on Monday 2 October, when it is scheduled to take up the progress report of the Working Group on the universal periodic review. At 10 a.m., it will discuss its 1503 procedure behind closed doors.
Presentation by Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories
JOHN DUGARD, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said on 6 July 2006 the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in which it decided to “dispatch an urgent fact-finding mission headed by the Special Rapporteur”. On 7 July the Special Rapporteur met with the President of the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to implement this resolution. It was agreed by all that it would be necessary to obtain the consent of the Government of Israel for this mission, and that the President of the Council would approach the Ambassador of Israel for such consent, in a memorandum. The President of the Council met with the Ambassador of Israel shortly afterwards, and requested the consent of the Government of Israel for the mission, and the Ambassador indicated he would seek instructions and reply as soon as possible.
The Special Rapporteur then proceeded to constitute the fact finding mission, approaching a military security officer and an expert in public health to join the mission. As the days passed, the Special Rapporteur became worried that the President of the Council had received no reply from the Government. On 21 July, the President wrote a letter to the Ambassador in which he requested a reply to his request for consent to the mission by 24 July. To the best of the Special Rapporteur’s knowledge, the President received no reply to this letter. On 8 August, the Special Rapporteur wrote a letter to the President, in which he stated that more than a month had passed in waiting for a reply from the Government of Israel, and he thought that there was no alternative but to construe this as a refusal; that the Government of Israel should be notified that this was the position; and that the Human Rights Council should be informed.
The Special Rapporteur was not, therefore, able to head a fact-finding mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories as required by the Council. He did however compile a report on the situation in Gaza, following the start of “Operation Summer Rains”, and other issues of concern to the Council in its special session of 6 July. From his report, it was clear that concerns were well founded. Since 25 June Israel had been engaged in a brutal military operation in Gaza, characterised by bombings, sonic booms, military incursions and targeted assassinations. Over 260 Palestinians, including 58 children, had been killed, and some 800 wounded. Buildings had been destroyed and agricultural lands levelled. There was a humanitarian crisis resulting from the destruction of the major power plant, the closure of borders, and poverty. Israeli action had failed to discriminate between militants and civilians. In summary, its action in Gaza constituted collective punishment of the Palestinian people. The disproportionate attacks on civilians also constituted war crimes, and the Israeli authorities themselves ought to consider prosecution of the perpetrators in this regard. (The report of the Special Rapporteur was presented to the Council on 26 September and the summary can be found in press release HR/HRC/06/48.)
Statements by Concerned Parties
ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said Israel had had high hopes that the Council would exceed the low expectations and double standards of the Commission. Yet, the resolutions and reports that had been issued by the Council since its very beginning had proven otherwise and had emphasized its one-sided and imbalanced nature. Only one country had been singled out by resolution, while the Council had failed to address the grave situations in other parts of the world. Even worse, two special sessions had been dedicated to alleged human rights violations of Israel, which failed to address the simple facts which led to Israel’s actions in self-defence: the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas Qassam rockets and Hizbollah’s Katushya rockets on Israel towns and villages, two renowned terrorist organizations. Such blatant omissions cast a black stain on the legitimacy of the good faith and objectivity of the Council. On Tuesday, the Special Rapporteur called upon both Israelis and Palestinians to get away from the terminology of terror. The Rapporteur might do well to heed his own advice, as his inflammatory descriptions of Israel throughout the report veered quickly into the absurd, where Israel was accused of “terrorizing” the Palestinians at every turn. While the sonic booms of aircraft apparently fell into that category, the sonic booms of suicide bombers apparently did not.
On Tuesday, the Special Rapporteur called upon Israel and the international community to engage with the Palestinian Government headed by Hamas. Surely, the Special Rapproteur was cognizant of the fact that Hamas was an organization whose founding Charter was virtually anti-Semitic and called for the “obliteration” of Israel. Less than one week ago, the Hamas Prime Minister said that he personally would not head any government that recognized Israel. Who, exactly, did the Special Rapporteur expect Israel to engage with? The Rapporteur’s report presented today was simply a rehashing of the statement he delivered last Tuesday, and was an unfortunate waste of time.
MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said that they were here today to follow up on decisions and resolution adopted by the Council to ensure the effectiveness of the Council in implementing its resolutions. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories constituted the most flagrant violation of human rights, which should be given due attention by the esteemed Council.
The list of Israeli breaches and infringements of most principles enshrined in international law was open-ended, including continuous bombardment of civilians, sonic bombs, military incursions, shelling and destruction of vital infrastructure, house demolitions, sporadic house arrests, land confiscation, economic siege and closures, which had dire consequences on food and medical supplies. In addition to this list of punitive Israeli measures, the construction of the Wall compounded the suffering of the Palestinian people and generated, inter alia, forced internal displacement of Palestinians. All conventions on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development were systematically violated by Israel, the occupying power, on a daily basis in Palestine by an occupying power that expanded its list of violations as it encountered no effective reaction by the international community.
It was ridiculous that an occupier armed with the most sophisticated military arsenal, not to mention nuclear weapons, claimed that it was being terrorized by primitive hand-made missiles by determined Palestinians who faced the daily agony of occupation, humiliation, death and poverty and had no protection whatsoever against their occupier. Palestine called for the international protection of their people in Palestine.
KHALIT BITAR (Syria), speaking as a concerned country, said the report submitted was very professional, despite the difficulties in the human rights situation in the Occupied Arab Territories and in Palestine. There was great concern for the deterioration of the situation in Gaza and the Golan, before the eyes of the international community that was doing nothing to defend the breaches of many Conventions, including the Geneva Convention. The modern media has been broadcasting live what was happening, showing the crimes perpetrated. Four million Arabs were suffering occupation. There were 500,000 displaced Syrians who had left the Golan and who had been waiting for 40 years, during which time the international community had been sending delegation after delegation, making resolution after resolution, and the successive Israeli Governments had been ignoring these and putting themselves above the law. Surely the time had come to implement international resolutions, and the Council could find a mechanism to mitigate the suffering of the Arab citizens who were suffering from the worst violations of human rights, and who were waiting for the return of the rule of law in order to build a just country and society.
The Council should leave behind the mentality and mechanisms of the double standards of the Commission and the enormous paperwork that gave no results, the resolutions that were never implemented. The Council should prove its credibility to defend the weak and the vulnerable. Two extraordinary sessions had been held, and there were resolutions, which should find their way to implementation. Syria was prepared to cooperate with the Council, so that people regained confidence in the human rights defence system, and that Arab civilians under occupation could finally regain hope. What was the best way of bringing an end to the suffering of the people, Syria asked the Special Rapporteur.
IDRISS JAZAÏRY (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the Special Rapporteur’s report had expressed concern about the flagrant violations perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people. Unlike the Security Council, the Human Rights Council was not a political forum but it was a forum where human rights concerns were expressed. In a special session it held, the Council had taken measures with regard to the situation; however, the resolutions adopted by the Council were not implemented. The members of the Palestinian Government and law-makers who were kidnapped by Israel were still in the hands of Israel. Such an act was contrary to international norms. The unethical behaviour of Israel had to be halted.
The deplorable situation in Lebanon was also of concern. The mission of inquiry had been sent to the ground and the Council would be informed about the results. It was hoped that the Council would be an additional tool in bringing peace to the region.
TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, said that the Council met in its first Special Session to deal with the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Council had passed a resolution (S-1/Res.1) demanding that Israel end military operations; abide scrupulously by the provisions of international humanitarian law and human rights law and refrain from imposing collective punishment on Palestinian civilians. The Council decided to send an urgent fact finding mission headed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
Resolution S-1/Res.1 remained unimplemented. The fact-finding mission had not been able to undertake its mission. It had not been permitted to enter the Palestinian territories. The lack of implementation of resolutions of the Council needed serious consideration. The Council should consider how implementation of its resolutions could be ensured.
ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA (Bahrain), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the decision of the High Commissioner to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories was welcomed, and this visit should take place as soon as possible. When references were made to violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories before the Council, then it should be remembered that there was a transparent and objective report, based on the principles of international law and international Conventions, which were fundamental criteria and never varied whenever evaluating the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israeli Authorities had not allowed the Special Rapporteur to visit the Palestinian Territories. This was similar to its refusal to implement the resolutions of the United Nations and the Commission. The Israeli authorities were continuing to deliberately kill unarmed Palestinian civilians, arresting them, taking away their lands and banishing them.
Israel was continuing to build the Wall, separating Palestine from the world outside. There was also a stifling blockade, which went against the Hague Convention, the Geneva Convention, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights - and the occupation itself was a gross human rights violation. The resolution of the Council, taken at the first special session, should be implemented. The international community was called upon to shoulder its responsibilities in the light of the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and international protection should be afforded to the Palestinian people, so that they could enjoy their legitimate right to build a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. An end should be brought to the conflict so that peace and security could return to the region.
SAMIR LABIDI (Tunisia) said that despite the refusal by Israel to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the occupied territory of Palestine, he had however described the horrible situation in which the Palestinians were living. The Israelis had taken hostage many Palestinian officials in violation of international norms. Israel alone was responsible for the human rights violations and infringement of international law. Tunisia called upon all parties to implement the resolutions adopted by the Special Session of the Human Rights Council. The visit of the Human Rights Commission to the occupied territory would at least provide further testimony to the worsening situation on the ground.
ABDULWAHAB A. ATTAR (Saudi Arabia), associating Saudi Arabia with the statements by Pakistan and Bahrain, said that the Council was following the tragic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories where the humanitarian situation had worsened. The occupying Israeli force continued the systematic violation of the rights of Palestinians, including the right to self-determination. Saudi Arabia recalled resolution S-1/Res.1 of the Council that called for an end to military operations and for Israel to abide scrupulously by the provisions of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to refrain from imposing collective punishment on Palestinian civilians. Saudi Arabia regretted the fact that the fact-finding mission had not been able to carry out its mandate and visit the Palestinian territories.
VESA HIMANEN (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the announcement of the High Commissioner that she had been invited to visit both Israel and Palestine in the coming months was welcomed. The situation between Israel and the Palestinians had been and continued to be a cause of great concern for the European Union. During the last few months, the Middle East had once again seen much violence and hatred. All parties were reminded of the responsibility to protect civilian lives. There should be an immediate end to violence by Palestinian factions and Israeli military bodies. There should be an immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers and of Palestinian Ministers in Israeli custody. Acts that were contrary to international law should be halted, and of particular concern were settlement activities and the construction of the Barrier. The European Union would not recognise any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those recognised by both bodies.
The Israeli Authorities should live up to the Road Map, and the Palestinian Authority should take firm action against those Palestinians that committed acts of violence. The problem of access and movement were a grave problem in the Palestinian Territories and in Gaza in general. Border crossings should be opened and remain open. Both parties should live up to their commitments on movement. Of equal importance to the economy was the resumption of movement and transfer of goods. There was great concern for the economic and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories. Lasting peace and security in the region could only take place through a negotiated solution and the two-State solution, and it was therefore necessary to reinvigorate the peace process.
IDHAM MUSA MOKTAR (Malaysia) said that the Council now had the opportunity to consider the fundamental issue of follow-up and implementation of its decisions and resolutions. It was imperative that the decisions taken by the Council were carried out in full and without undue delay. More importantly so if those decisions had been taken at the Council’s special session, reflecting the gravity of the human rights violations on the one hand and the importance of urgent and effective responses to such violations on the other.
WIWIEK SETYAWATI (Indonesia) thanked John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, for his report. Indonesia called once again on the international community to act more decisively and unequivocally to protect the human rights of the Palestinian and Lebanese people through the full implmentation of its decisions. Not only did the Palestinian and Lebanese people deserve more than mere words of sympathy, their fundamental rights were a test for the Council’s determination to impose a culture of respect for the rule of law and for the universal principles and norms enshrined in the international human rights instruments. The Council’s reputation and effectiveness depended upon it.
ABDOUL WAHAB HAIDARA (Senegal) said the degradation of the situation in the field, combined with the numerous attacks on the dignity of the Palestinian people, was not of a nature to facilitate dialogue and to re-establish confidence between Israelis and Palestinians. Senegal reiterated its support to the Palestinian people, and urged the international community to commit itself fully in the rebirth of the peace process in the Middle East. The Council should go further than the interest it showed for the issue, and hold a special session. It was essential that the Council identify the ways and means for an effective implementation of the decisions and resolutions that it had adopted or would adopt in order to safeguard its credibility and confirm its efficiency, in conformity with its mandate.
JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said the cause of the Palestinians was one that had concerned the international community throughout the years since 1967. The massive and flagrant human rights violations had to be condemned. The problem had to be resolved so that the Palestinians could live in peace. At present, they were living in miserable conditions because of the Israeli practices. The Non-Aligned Movement meeting that was recently held in Havana had declared that it would support the right of the Palestinian people and their struggle for self-determination and the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The unilateral decision to build a wall of separation had severely affected the Palestinian people and created unbearable conditions in their lives. The separation wall had deprived the farmers of their lands and a number of infrastructures had been demolished.
The leaders of Israel should be held responsible and brought to justice for the crimes they committed against the Palestinian people. The Israeli Government should return the Palestinian land and also compensate all the victims whose properties had been destroyed. Israel should also release without any precondition all the Palestinians it detained, including the government officials it held, and allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the occupied Palestinian territory.
FATOUMATA DIALL (Mali), associating itself with the statements made by Pakistan and Algeria on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference and the African Group, expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian people. Mali was concerned about the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the failure of the fact-finding mission to visit the territories. Taking into account the initial stages in which the Council found itself, it had a unique opportunity to assert its credibility and prove its effectiveness by implementing Resolution S-1/Res.1 of the Council.
MUSTAFISUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) said Mr. Dugard’s statement once again revealed the appalling human rights and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. It was unfortunate that he was not allowed to visit the territories to have first-hand information on the human rights situation. The Palestinian people were in a dire situation due to the Israeli blockade, confiscation of their land, demolition of houses, erection of separation walls and a host of other illegal acts. The current military operations had only accentuated their suffering. In complete disrespect of international norms, Israel had detained elected public representatives, lawmakers, and Ministers of the Palestinian Government.
Bangladesh had consistently supported the termination of the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory, as well as the right of self-determination of the people of Palestine. Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land represented a flagrant violation of human rights and international law. Lasting and viable peace in the region could not be achieved until the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people were recognised and Israeli forces withdrew from the occupied territories. The international community and in particular countries which were in a position to exert influence on Israel should make all efforts to stop Israel from continuing with atrocities and construction of the Wall. Furthermore, the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and the walls already constructed should be dismantled. All parties concerned should resume immediately the peace process aimed at a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the region.
TERRY CORMIER (Canada) said Canada was concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank, and called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to fully respect international humanitarian law and principles. The challenge for the Human Rights Council was to look at issues of concern in this region as in many other regions of the world in an objective and balanced manner. Canada strongly supported the use of Special Rapporteurs by the new Human Rights Council. However, in this case, Canada had reservations with respect to the unbalanced mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories which was focused exclusively on Israeli practices rather than the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza as a whole. Canada welcomed the announcement of the agreement by the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority for an upcoming visit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
PABLO MACEDO (Mexico) expressed satisfaction over the opportunity the Council had now to follow-up decisions and recommendations adopted by it. It was important to carry out a dialogue between Member States and other observers on the implementation of the Council’s decisions, as it would constitute great institutional progress and strengthen the legitimacy, credibility and efficiency of the work of the Council. With reference to implementation of the Council’s resolution S-2/Res.1, Mexico noted with satisfaction the composition of the Commission of Inquiry, composed of three important personalities with wide experience on human rights and humanitarian law. It expressed concern over the fact that the fact-finding mission had not been able to visit the Palestinian territories. It was important for the Council to fulfil its aim of paying due attention to situations affecting human rights in all countries, and that it not carry out its obligations in a selective or partial manner.
SERGEY CHUMAREV (Russian Federation) said the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories remained very serious. This was the basic reason for the convening of the first special session of the Council, which the Russian Federation had supported. The resolution of that session should be implemented in full. Improvement in the human rights situation in Palestine could only be achieved through a peaceful settlement on the basis of full implementation of the Road Map with the help of the Quartet and international mediators.
ZHAO XING (China) said the Commission on Human Rights had adopted over one hundred resolutions every year but their implementation had been a problem which had affected its credibility. The Council should make a new start, but if its resolutions were also not implemented, that could affect the credibility of this new body.
ALIREZA MOAIYERI (Iran) associated itself with the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference. The report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 suggested that the systematic pattern of human rights violations and massive breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights by Israel had been continuing unabated. The people in Gaza had been subjected to continous bombardment and military incursions. The report acknowledged that in a large measure the humanitarian crisis was the result of the termination of the funding of the PalestinianAuthority. Palestinian people were being punished for having democratically elected a Government unacceptable to Israel, the United States, Canada and the European Union.
AMIN MELEIKA (Egypt) said the reports of Mr. Dugard on massive human rights violations of the Palestinian people had been documented, and despite this, the international community still failed to address them and do anything effective to put an end to the suffering of an occupied people. It was strange to hear attempts in the Council to shirk responsibility of offering protection to the Palestinian people. How was it possible for the Council to have any credibility when from the outset it was unable to have its decisions implemented by its lack of capacity or of desire to impose these? The standards and criteria applied by the Council to addressing human rights violations were also questioned, as at times there was a reluctance to help. It was hoped these double standards would no longer be the fate of the Council, and things would be put right so it could effectively help to protect and promote human rights.
A Representative of Yemen said Yemen appreciated the report of the Special Rapporteur, which was objective and credible. The report had clearly indicated that the rights of the Palestinian people were being violated. The Israeli occupation had continued in defiance of the international community’s call to withdraw from the Palestinian territory. The Israeli practices were more than occupation and they were the worst that the world had witnessed. The world community should force Israel to lift the oppressive measures it had imposed on Palestinian people and end its occupation.
ABDULHAKIM ZAMOUNA (Libya) associated itself with the statements made by the African and Arab Groups as well as the Organization of Islamic Conference with reference to the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Libya strongly condemned the decision of Israel of not allowing the fact-finding mission to fulfil its mandate, and called on the international community to discharge its responsibility in putting pressure on Israel to abide by United Nations resolutions and respect humanitarian and human rights laws.
OMAR DAHAB MOHAMED (Sudan) said with regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur and his indication of the brutal military operations in Gaza and the collective punishment of all the persons therein, the Council should strongly condemn the Israeli actions which were unprecedented in modern history, in particular the abduction of Palestinian Ministers and Parliamentarians. The international community, including the Commission on Human Rights, had always expressed concern about the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. It was time for the international community and the Council in particular to put aside the double standards of the past, the appeasement practiced with Israel, and the lack of seriousness with which Israel’s war crimes were treated.
WARREN W. TICHENOR (United States) said the Council’s unbalanced focus to date on Israel did not conform to General Assembly resolution 60/251 and, if this continued, would create credibility issues for that body. Agenda items and resolution should be designed to advance, not retard, and progress on a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Council should be more balanced in its work. The international community appropriately was concerned about violations of human rights of Palestinians. But in expressing that concern, it should also express equal concern about indiscriminate terrors attacks that murdered innocent Israelis. The Council should also allow its focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to prevent consideration of other, equally pressing situations elsewhere in the world.
CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that the further deterioration of human rights and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories remained a source of great concern to the international community. Gross violations of human rights persisted; the Wall continued to be constructed despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice and Israeli settlements were increasing. Illegal occupation by Israel of Arab territories, including Palestine and Syrian Golan constituted a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and international laws. A great number of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and Security Council denouncing these breaches were a testimony to this.
HILLEL NEUER, of United Nations Watch, said all stakeholders should heed the words of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to focus on the situation of human rights throughout the world, without focusing on specific countries, and to apply human rights across the board, and to move away from past practices which all had criticised. The Council was not respecting the Secretary-General’s plea for balance. After the one-sided sessions over the summer, NGOs had added their voices to echo the message of the Secretary-General. The one-sided approach was a blow to the Council’s credibility, and an abdication of its mission to protect and promote human rights for all.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, in a joint statement with Human Rights Watch, said the report made a chilling reading. The human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was appalling and continued to deteriorate. Since the beginning of 2006, the Israeli army had launched thousands of attacks against densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 430 Palestinians, including more than 80 children, and injuring hundreds of others. Amnesty would recommend that the Council deploy a team of international experts to the occupied territories and Israel to carry out a thorough independent investigation into the growing number of killings of Palestinians by Israel forces in the Gaza Strip.
GARETH GLEED, of Al-haq, law in the service of man, said that Al’ Haq had been monitoring the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories for the last 20 years. Al’ Haq expressed great concern over the situation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In Gaza, the military siege was taking a heavy toll on the civilian population. Israel was continuing with its settlement expansion, acquisition of land and construction of the Wall, all in flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws. Al’ Haq called upon the international community to abandon its inaction and acquiescence, and put pressure on the occupying power to full comply with United Nations resolutions and human rights standards.
KLAUS NETTER, of B'nai B'rith, in a joint statement with Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations, said from the outset, Mr. Dugard’s very mandate was biased: it was exclusively directed against Israel, and virtually ignored violations by terrorist groups operating from these territories against Israeli civilians. Israel had neither ratified nor even signed Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, and was therefore not bound by it. The one-sided mandate on the occupied Palestinian territories should be terminated, and even if it continued, Mr. Dugard should be removed from his position. While he remained, the slander in which he regularly indulged against the Jewish State could hardly be expected to stop.
RAMA ENAV, of Women’s International Zionist Organization, said a clear testimony to the one-sided and obsolete nature of the Special Rapporteur’s report was the fact that its mandate already prejudged the outcome of his findings. It was assuming Israel violations while completely ignoring the evident violations on the Palestinian side. Victimization of children had been escalating since September 2000. Children were purposefully and strategically positioned at the front of violent clashes. They were exploited as couriers for explosives, and openly encouraged to forfeit their lives.
LOURDES CERVANTES, of Organization for Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America in a joint statement with Federation of Cuban Women and National Union of Jurists of Cuba, said that the dramatic situation of the Palestinian people exemplified best the negative impact of unilateralism in international relations, and the crisis of applicability of international law and international humanitarian law. Silence and inaction with reference to the situation of the Palestinian question were synonymous with genocide.
HANAN SHARFELDDIN, of International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, said Israel, thanks to United States veto power in the Security Council, had continued to defy the resolutions of the Security Council, the resolutions of the General Assembly, and the ruling of the International Court of Justice. Yet Israel was still a member of the United Nations and allowed to persist in its violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, of neighbouring States, and the United Nations Charter. It was high time that one standard was rigorously applied: respect for the rule of law by all, respect for the United Nations Charter and its organs’ resolutions by all, with no discrimination. It was high time to respond to Israel’s apartheid the way the international community responded to apartheid in South Africa.
LAZARO PARY, of Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, in a joint statement with World Peace Council, said the Palestinian people were the victims of the terrorist State of Israel. The capture of the militant Palestinians of one Israeli soldier had led to the killing of thousands of Palestinians. The selective killings of Palestinians and the kidnapping of Palestinian officials was an insult to this Council. Some States and the European Union failed to recognize the legally elected Hamas government. Bloody dictators were reigning in Latin America and the Government in Washington was arming them to the teeth. The acts committed in Palestine by Israel amounted to genocide.
Right of Reply
ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel), speaking in a right of reply, said with regards to the statement made by Syria, the false accusations that had been heard would not alter the truth known by the residents of, among others, Masada, who enjoyed the full range of freedoms of a democracy, and not the restrictions of a repressive totalitarian regime. A Hamas terrorist had been received in the Presidential Palace of Syria, and a summit of terrorist leaders had been hosted in the capital in January of this year. Syria’s direct support for Hezbollah had been documented by the United Nations Secretary-General. Recent reports also indicated that Syria was continuing to facilitate the transfer of weaponry through its territory, in full violation of Security Council resolutions. A country that was under international scrutiny should be wary of pointing the finger at others - people in glass houses should not throw stones.
KHALIT BITAR (Syria), in a right of reply, asked Israel if it equated occupation with democracy. Syria said that occupation was a crime under international law.
For use of the information media; not an official record