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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 24th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 30 June 2006, at 3 p.m.
President: Mr. DE ALBA (Mexico)
IMPLEMENTATION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 60/251 OF 15 MARCH 2006 ENTITLED “HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL” (continued)
PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR THE FIRST YEAR (continued)
REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE FIRST SESSION OF THE COUNCIL
CLOSURE OF THE SESSION
Draft decision on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories (A/HRC/1/L.15)
15. Mr. KHAN (Pakistan), introducing the draft decision on behalf of the sponsors, said that indiscriminate attacks on civilians and the economic siege caused by the cutting off of international aid and the withholding of Palestinian tax revenues had led to a deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 had attested to the grave human rights and humanitarian situation. The recent events in Gaza had further exacerbated the plight and suffering of the Palestinian people.
16. Paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution 60/251 provided that the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations. The States members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference had therefore submitted the draft decision which, in view of the Council’s time constraints, was extremely brief and went to the crux of the matter. He looked forward to unanimous support for its adoption.
17. The PRESIDENT announced that the draft decision had programme budget implications, which were contained in a paper that had been circulated among the members of the Council.
18. Mr. LABIDI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, said that the Arab States supported the statement made by the delegation of Pakistan on behalf of the States members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Group of Arab States had been engaged in negotiations in order to find a compromise that would be in keeping with General Assembly resolution 60/251. It had shown flexibility and a willingness to consider all proposals made by the regional groups. In view of the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, the Council should express its deep concern.
19. Mr. LEVANON (Israel) said that the draft decision was unbalanced and intentionally one-sided, and ran counter to the spirit of General Assembly resolution 60/251. The Council must not let itself become a mere instrument for Israel-bashing and be politicized and subverted by propaganda.
20. A fundamentalist terrorist organization had seized control of the Palestinian Authority. By its own admission, that organization called for the destruction of the State of Israel. It had taken its own people hostage in a campaign of indiscriminate terrorism, and had also taken Israeli hostages, one of whom had already been murdered. The terrorist entity indiscriminately shelled Israeli cities, targeting children and civilians, and used its own civilians as human shields, which was clearly a war crime and a crime against humanity. No country represented in the Council would let its own civilians be subjected to such clear and imminent threats.
21. The adoption of resolutions that ignored the facts would not alleviate the hardship of the Palestinians. Those who advocated adoption of the draft decision would have the Council believe that, in such a tragic conflict, only one side could claim to be the victim, as if no suicide bombs constantly exploded in crowded streets in Israeli cities, killing innocent civilians and wounding many others.
22. The Secretary-General had recently said that he hoped that the Council would abandon the former Commission’s practice of selectivity and would not focus on Israel’s record without paying attention to the records of other States. To ensure a fresh beginning, the members of the Council should vote against the draft decision.
23. Mr. ABU-KOASH (Observer for Palestine) said that Israel had instituted terrorism in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine, and had inflicted endless suffering on the Palestinian people. Although Israel claimed to be acting in self-defence, it had invaded and occupied foreign territory and was killing innocent civilians. The Israeli occupation authorities had abducted half the members of the Palestinian Government. The President of Palestine was under house arrest in Gaza and was unable to move to the West Bank. Israel was a fascist regime that was tolerated owing to the support that it received from a certain super-Power. In Palestine, water and electricity supplies had been cut, people had no access to medicines, and their salaries had been withheld for the past four months. In his statement, the representative of Israel had distorted the facts. Israel’s human rights violations should not be tolerated, whether or not they were supported by the United States.
24. Mr. JA’AFARI (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that the Israeli occupying forces had abducted thousands of Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Although colonialism had been eliminated everywhere else in the world, it continued to exist in Palestine. He asked why 15 Israeli fighter aircraft had recently violated Syrian airspace. Contrary to what the representative of Israel had said, the Israeli occupation of Palestine was a reality that must be addressed in the context of the United Nations, and from the perspective of international humanitarian law. The 953 Palestinian children who had been killed by Israeli snipers had not been terrorists, and neither had the thousands of women who had been killed in Palestinian territory. The Human Rights Council must condemn such discrimination. The many existing United Nations resolutions against Israel should be implemented in order to end the current situation in Palestine.
25. Mr. SOUFAN (Observer for Lebanon) said that he hoped that the draft decision would be adopted by consensus. His delegation was disappointed that the many attempts to draft a common document on the human rights violations committed by Israelis in the occupied territories had not been successful, and hoped that the Human Rights Council would address that issue. Israeli actions were having devastating consequences not only in the occupied territories but also further afield. All possible diplomatic efforts must be made to address that situation, and he called on the members of the Council to vote in favour of the draft decision.
26. Mr. HIMANEN (Finland), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, on behalf of the European Union member States that were members of the Human Rights Council and the acceding country Romania, said that the European Union was concerned at the recent escalation in violence in Palestine, and urged all parties to fulfil their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and to protect civilian lives. The Council should provide an opportunity to address human rights situations in a constructive atmosphere, and should encourage States to fulfil their human rights obligations. The European Union regretted that it had not been possible for the Council to come to an agreement on a comprehensive statement on subjects of concern, including the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, religious intolerance, the situation of human rights defenders and the situation in Darfur. The European Union would therefore vote against the draft decision.
27. Ms. RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) said that the international community should not ignore the suffering of any of the parties involved in the conflicts in the occupied Arab territories. In order to resolve the problem in a peaceful manner, cooperation and dialogue should prevail.
28. Mr. MEYER (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia, said that his delegation was disappointed that the draft decision on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories had been submitted to the Council. Canada had hoped that the Council’s discussions on the subject would have been reflected in a consensus-based statement rather than a one-sided decision. His delegation was dissatisfied with the procedure through which the issue had been introduced, and did not accept the singling out of one specific situation by the Council. Canada would therefore vote against the draft decision.
29. Mr. THORNE (United Kingdom) said that the draft decision took an unbalanced approach to the situation in Palestine and other occupied territories. At such an early stage in its existence, the Council should not decide how often it would discuss certain issues at its future sessions. While his delegation was prepared to take part in substantial discussions on the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories at future sessions of the Council, it could not support the draft decision.
30. At the request of the representative of Finland on behalf of the States members of the European Union that were members of the Council and the acceding country Romania, a recorded vote was taken on the draft decision.
Against: Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Abstaining: Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala, Nigeria, Republic of Korea.
32. Mr. GODET (Switzerland) said that his delegation was disappointed that a consensus had not been reached on the text of the draft decision. Switzerland’s opposition to the text was not based on the substance of the decision, but rather on the Council’s procedures. All parties to the conflict should respect international human rights and humanitarian law.
33. Mr. ENDO (Japan) said that his delegation was concerned about the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, and considered that the deterioration of the situation might have a negative effect on future efforts to establish peace. All parties to the conflict should exercise maximum self-restraint. Since the Council was in its first session, a consensual approach would have been preferable, and Japan had therefore voted against the draft decision, which it did not consider to be a constructive text.
34. Mr. GONZÁLEZ (Uruguay) said that Uruguay had voted in favour of the draft decision, since its demands were in keeping with the gravity of the situation. Nevertheless, the vote had not set a good precedent. In future, such situations should be addressed through dialogue and negotiation.
35. Mr. CERDA (Argentina) said that his delegation supported the efforts of the international community to encourage the parties to the conflict to resume dialogue, and supported United Nations initiatives in that regard.