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Agenda item 70: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)*
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda item 70: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued ) (A/60/111, 263, 268 and 319)
25. Mr. Saeed (Sudan) ...
26. The Sudan concurred with the African Union’s position that the right to self-determination was limited to peoples who had suffered colonialism or foreign occupation and should not be used as a pretext for partitioning the territory, destroying the social fabric, or interfering in the internal affairs of any State. In that regard, the international community needed to devote the necessary attention to implementation of United Nations resolutions relating to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in an independent State in Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
43. Mr. Hyassat (Jordan) said that the right to self-determination was of great importance to the international community in promoting and enhancing friendly relations among States and nations. It embodied the free will and aspirations of peoples to determine their own political status, as well as their economic, social and cultural development. That was the general principle of self-determination, as embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenants on Human Rights, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and as confirmed most recently in the World Summit Outcome. The same was true of the right to self-determination in colonial situations, in which people remained under alien domination or foreign occupation. That right had been confirmed by the Human Rights Committee and as a rule of customary international law and an erga omnes obligation in regional and international case law.
44. Against that backdrop, it was alarming to note that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was still being denied by Israel, as the International Court of Justice had pointed out in its advisory opinion on the separation wall. Jordan therefore called on the Government of Israeli to fulfil its obligations under international law and all relevant United Nations resolutions so that the Palestinian people could freely exercise the right to establish their own sovereign State. Fulfilment of those obligations would not only end the violence but also lead to a just and lasting peace agreement in which the two-State solution could become a reality, and Israel and the entire region could enjoy peace and security.
45. Mr. Meron (Israel) said that his country’s dedication to the fight against racism, prejudice and intolerance was deeply rooted in the Bible and in its Declaration of Independence, and the principle of tolerance, pluralism and acceptance of others was firmly established at all levels of its education system. At the international level, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Authority, in collaboration with similar foreign non-governmental organizations and Israeli universities, had organized a seminar for the Tutsi survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to help them memorialize the past and use it in their future endeavours.
46. It was therefore troubling that, 60 years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism was still increasing worldwide, with widespread acceptance in some areas. That vicious phenomenon had re-emerged in the form of violent attacks, burning of synagogues, vandalism, desecration of cemeteries, and rhetoric disguised as anti-Zionism. The Jewish people had not been the target of such extreme intolerance since the end of the Second World War. It was distressing that, after centuries of respectful cohabitation of Muslims and Jews in Islamic countries, anti-Semitism had spread like a plague throughout the Muslim world: highly inflammatory television broadcasts — justifying Holocaust deniers, among other things — inflamed an already frustrated and alienated youth, who then vented their anger on Jews. Something must be done to stop media incitement to such virulent anti-Semitism.
47. Israel applauded the efforts of the Special Rapporteur and other United Nations initiatives to combat that dangerous phenomenon. He cited the Secretary-General’s asseveration that a United Nations that was not at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism denied its own history; the inclusion of a condemnation of anti-Semitism in the 2005 General Assembly resolution against religious intolerance; the recent adoption of resolution 60/7 designating 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust; and the special session of the General Assembly to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, during which an exhibition on Auschwitz had been organized at Headquarters.
63. Mr. Meron (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he felt obliged to comment on the remarks made by a number of delegations the previous day in connection with the Palestinian right to self-determination. In his statement at the 2005 World Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had stated that the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel did not mean disregarding the rights of others in the land. Israel respected the Palestinians, its neighbours, had no aspirations to rule over them, and asserted that they were entitled to freedom and to a national, sovereign existence in a State of their own. Israel had recognized the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people 25 years previously, within the framework of the Camp David Accords. Since then, it had entered into further agreements, all aimed at an end to the conflict and implementation of those rights.
64. A window of opportunity for the region had been established in 2005 with the Sharm el-Sheikh summit and the Gaza disengagement plan. The pursuit of Palestinian self-determination depended on the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to complete its first obligation under the road map, namely, to dismantle terrorist infrastructure and collect illegal weapons. It was unclear why that was not taking place. Having spent most of their modern history defending the right to self-determination in their ancient homeland, the Jewish people, who supported the right to self-determination of peoples in general and their Palestinian neighbours in particular, expected from those Palestinian neighbours a de facto and de jure recognition of their own right to self-determination. Unfortunately, statements such as that delivered the day before by the observer for Palestine contradicted that principle. By using inflammatory rhetoric, the Palestinians neither supported dialogue and confidence-building nor served their own ambitions for self-determination.
65. His Government called on the Committee to recognize and support the positive advances of recent months, particularly the disengagement of every Israeli soldier and every civilian from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank. It hoped that those efforts would lead to a two-State solution so that Israelis and Palestinians could live side by side in peace and security.
66. Mr. Hijazi (Observer for Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that racism and racial discrimination against Palestinians were Israeli policies clearly practised and meticulously enforced on the ground. Israel could not therefore escape responsibility for discriminating against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and against its non-Jewish citizens, including indigenous Palestinians. Israel should respect the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, of which it was a signatory.
67. While in both policy and practice the Palestinian leadership opposed all attacks against civilians from both sides, the State of Israel planned, facilitated and executed such attacks, including extrajudicial executions of Palestinian activists and political figures which often injured and killed innocent bystanders. The Palestinian leadership had secured an agreement to declare and adhere to a unilateral ceasefire, yet the occupying Power had insisted on provoking and invoking violent reactions — such as in the case of the Hadera attack, which the Palestinian leadership had condemned — and had killed over 120 Palestinians and arrested over 2,000 others. It was unreasonable to expect such reactions to stop while the Israeli military machine continued to wreak havoc in Palestinian cities.
68. With regard to the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, half-truths were not convincing arguments. While the Palestinian leadership and people had welcomed the unilateral Israeli withdrawal as they would have any withdrawal from any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the international community must not be misled. The disengagement was positive in setting a precedent, but it had come 38 years too late and left the Gaza Strip’s 1.3 million inhabitants prisoners, denied access to the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the rest of the world. The Israeli Government often conveniently omitted from its discussion of the disengagement the fact that the occupation forces maintained effective control over land, sea and air access to the Gaza Strip. According to international law, the Gaza Strip therefore remained occupied, and Israel was still obliged to fulfil its obligations as an occupying Power. The problem remained Israel’s contempt for the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people and its disregard for international law, including human-rights and humanitarian law, and scores of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Only when Israel recognized Palestinian rights through actions rather than hollow statements would peace reign in the region.
The meeting rose at 5.35 p.m.
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Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.