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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 32nd MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday, 27 November 2006, at 3 p.m.
President: Mr. DE ALBA (Mexico)
Draft resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan (A/HRC/2/L.12)
1. Mr. TIRMIZI (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Gaza and East Jerusalem, had worsened since the outbreak of hostilities in the region. Legitimate Palestinian space was shrinking fast with the expansion of settlements, construction of the separation wall and efforts to “de-Palestinize” Jerusalem. The international community should call on Israel to halt its plans to operate a tram between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in clear violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.
2. The resolution on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory adopted by the Human Rights Council at its first special session had not been implemented. The Council had also decided to dispatch an urgent fact-finding mission to Israel and the occupied territories in December 2006. The mission would be headed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, who would prepare a detailed report on the basis of his visit. Following her recent visit to the Middle East, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights would soon present a report on human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
3. At the current session, the Organization of the Islamic Conference had tabled two draft resolutions on Palestine; the first dealt with Israeli settlements and the second with follow-up to the Human Rights Council resolution S-1/1. At the request of the President of the Council, it had agreed to postpone consideration of the latter resolution until the third session of the Human Rights Council.
4. Following consultations with its partners, the Organization of the Islamic Conference had agreed to amend the draft resolution on Israeli settlements. He noted, inter alia, that the wording in brackets in paragraph 2 (e) would be moved to a footnote and, in paragraph 8, the words “party” and “both” would be replaced by “side” and “all”, respectively.
5. Mr. LEVANON (Observer for Israel) said that, during her visit to the region the previous week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had witnessed the consequences of the daily rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, when a Qassam rocket had landed on a factory in Sderot fatally injuring the father of two young children. Both Islamic Jihad and the military wing of the ruling Hamas party had claimed responsibility for the attacks. Although two Red Cross workers abducted by gunmen in Gaza the previous week had later been released unharmed, the incident had been a reminder that Corporal Shalit was still in captivity. Since September 2005, Palestinian armed groups had fired 1,700 rockets into Israel, maiming civilians, including children, and heavily damaging civilian infrastructure and homes. Human Rights Watch had published a statement urging the Palestinian Authority to stop Hamas’s indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets, and the High Commissioner had noted that Qassam missiles, inherently directionless weapons, were used “with the intent to kill and spread fear without discrimination … in breach of international humanitarian law”.
6. In the light of the ceasefire agreement reached the previous day between Israelis and Palestinians, he had asked the Palestinian delegation to withdraw the purely political draft resolution the aim of which was to distract attention from the real issues. The resolution decried Israel’s “settlement activity” while failing to acknowledge that Israel had dismantled its settlements in Gaza and withdrawn from settlements in the northern West Bank. While the draft resolution recognized the principles of the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements, it did not mention that those arrangements had left the issue of settlements to the permanent status negotiations between the parties. The resolution not only prejudged the outcome of those negotiations but also failed to reflect reality and impeded positive developments that might help to settle the conflict. He urged the Council to vote against the resolution, since anyone voting in favour would be perpetuating the conflict.
7. Mr. ABU-KOASH (Observer for Palestine) said that Palestinians wanted to live in peace and would willingly withdraw all resolutions if Israel ended its occupation of three quarters of Palestinian lands. Israel had to be judged by its actions not its words, and its action on the ground included plans to build a tram from East Jerusalem to a settlement in the West Bank. In the spirit of the truce recently agreed between Israel and Palestine, he would not retaliate with words as harsh as those used by the representative of Israel. Both sides should turn their swords into ploughshares to cultivate the fertile lands of Palestine for future generations of Palestinians and Israelis.
8. Mr. RAAD (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians were all victims of Israel’s deplorable practices, of which the settlements were only a part. Israel made light of all United Nations resolutions and falsified the facts. Claiming to be a democracy and pretending to act in self-defence, it massacred women and children. Palestinians were confined to a living hell, while Syrians lived under the Israeli yoke in the occupied Golan. Israel had destroyed hundreds of villages, displacing thousands of Arabs, and Syrian farmers had been deprived of their homes and land. The whole international community, including the Red Cross, had deplored Israel’s practices in the occupied territories. The international community should stop Israel’s effort to hold up the peace process, and he urged the Council to support the draft resolution in order to restore Arabs’ trust in international law and the United Nations.
9. The PRESIDENT announced that five countries had joined the list of sponsors of the draft resolution. There were no programme budget implications.
10. Mr. MEYER (Canada), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that the General Assembly, and not the Human Rights Council, was the appropriate forum to address the question of Israeli settlements. While Canada’s policy regarding the issue remained unchanged, the draft resolution did not provide a balanced assessment of the human rights situation in the region and did not recognize all the victims of the conflict. Since the draft resolution would not contribute to a peaceful and fair settlement, Canada would vote against it.
11. At the request of the representative of Canada, a recorded vote was taken on the draft resolution, as revised.
In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Zambia.
12. Draft resolution A/HRC/2/L.12, as revised, was adopted by 45 votes to 1, with 1 abstention.
13. Ms. BERAUN (Peru) said that Peru condemned all acts of violence, including indiscriminate attacks that caused civilian deaths and injuries. She urged all parties to respect international humanitarian law and take measures to prevent extremist violence.
14. Mr. KIVELA (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the acceding country Romania, commended the constructive spirit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the representative of Palestine, which demonstrated that the Council could engage in a positive dialogue on highly political issues. The European Union was concerned at the construction of a dividing wall and the expansion of settlements around East Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley, and had called upon Israel to desist from any action that might threaten a viable bilateral settlement or violate international law. The European Union would not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders that were not mutually acceptable. He urged both parties to ensure that the new ceasefire in the Gaza Strip held, since ending violence was a prerequisite for bringing both parties back to the negotiating table. The European Union would support all efforts to relaunch the peace process.
15. Mr. DUMONT (Argentina) said that Argentina would have preferred a text that condemned violence and all acts of terrorism.
16. Mr. SARKI (Nigeria) said that the speedy and peaceful resolution of all territorial disputes in the Middle East would require the will and wisdom of the main protagonists and the international community. The parties to the conflict should respect the relevant provisions of United Nations resolutions and decisions and international law and should seek a just and peaceful settlement of their territorial claims and differences. They should choose peace rather than confrontation, thus sparing the region the agony of intractable wars and violence.