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President: Mr. De Alba .............................................................................................................. (Mexico)
Consideration of the report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its fourth session
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Editing Unit, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Any corrections to the records of the public meetings held during this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.
The meeting was called to order at 12.05 p.m.
Implementation of General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 entitled “Human Rights Council” (agenda item 4) (continued)
1. Mr. Soufan (Observer for Lebanon) said that he hoped the Council would help to find solutions to the tragic human rights situation in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories.
6. Mr. Ja`afari (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that he endorsed the views expressed by the representative of Lebanon and hoped that the Council would prove more credible than its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, in condemning Israel’s human rights violations and the situation in the occupied territories. The issue was one of the most pressing human rights violations facing the Council and must be dealt with courageously, without relativizing international law or engaging in political selectivity.
9. Mr. Abu-Koash (Observer for Palestine) said that the efficacy of the new Council would be judged on its ability to offer action-oriented solutions to the gross and systematic human rights violations suffered by Palestinians under the Israeli occupation since 1967.
10. The precarious human rights and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory stemmed from the severe collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people for exercising their democratic right in the January 2006 parliamentary elections. That punishment, in the form of an economic blockade and repeated Israeli military attacks against the civilian population, contravened international human rights law and had resulted in unprecedented levels of poverty and unemployment. Israel furthermore continued to withhold Palestinian tax revenues, while its closure policy, especially the closure of commercial crossing points in the Gaza Strip, had led to acute shortages in food and medical supplies and had crippled the ability of the Palestinian Authority to provide social services, including health care and schooling.
11. The Palestinian people suffered under constant Israeli bombardment and military incursions while surrounded by the infamous wall, which encroached on their land and cut off the Palestinian capital, East Jerusalem, from the rest of the West Bank. Israel was furthermore escalating extrajudicial killings, causing death and injury to many Palestinian civilians in the process. Moreover, in one recent incident, missiles fired from an Israeli gunship off the coast of the Gaza Strip had killed many members of a single family on the beach.
12. He called on the Council and the international community to have the blockade lifted in order to prevent any further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to take effective measures to address the gross Israeli violations of human rights. He further called for a high-level inquiry mission to be dispatched to investigate the killing of Palestinian civilians and to report to the Council at its next session.
13. Mr. Levanon (Observer for Israel) said that Israel had strong reservations about the agenda item under discussion. Indiscriminate suicide terrorism, the use of human-guided bombs and the rise to power of a terrorist organization which controlled an entire authority were all critical factors to be taken into account when considering the situation in the territories and Israel’s operations in response thereto.
14. Despite Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, rockets continued to be fired indiscriminately at Israeli cities on a daily basis, targeting innocent civilians. It was surprising that no reference had been made at the current meeting to the vile incitement to hatred and anti-Semitism and to the glorification of death found in Government-sponsored media and publications in several countries and in cartoons and television series against Jews and Judaism. Such matters should form part and parcel of any discussion of defamation and of respect for religious tolerance and human rights, if the Council were to have any credibility.
15. It seemed apt and proper that the Council should take note of the dreadful attack which had taken place the previous day when Palestinian terrorists had raided an Israeli army post, killing two soldiers and kidnapping a third. Israel called for the kidnapped soldier to be treated with due regard for humanitarian principles and for the assistance of the international community in ensuring his safe return to his family.
16. He said that he questioned whether certain countries’ desire to raise human rights issues was driven by genuine concern or merely by their desire to use human rights as a weapon against their enemies while shielding their friends from criticism. He urged the members of the Council to ensure that the Council lived up to its promise by taking the path of change.
20. Mr. Martabit (Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action) said that, owing to lack of time, his statement would focus on racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, although he wished to mention also the serious human rights situation in Palestine, the occupied territories and Darfur, as well as the situation of migrants and human rights defenders.
23. Ms. Al-Hajjaji (Observer for the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that she did not wish to enumerate the many human rights violations committed in the Palestinian territories by the occupying power, Israel; they had been highlighted by her colleagues and were recorded on a daily basis in the international press. She expressed disappointment that the situation in Palestine had not been resolved in all the years that it had been on the agenda of the Commission on Human Rights, indeed, it had worsened. She requested that in drafting its future agenda the Council should consider the question of the occupied territories and the curbing of the occupying power as a matter that would remain an absolute priority until it had been resolved.
24. Mr. Al-Nuaimi (Observer for Qatar) said that he hoped the Council would build on the successes of the Commission and avoid its failures, in particular the politicization of debates and the use of double standards. Tackling the deteriorating human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan would be the Council’s most important challenge. Israeli forces continued to target innocent civilians, who suffered from a lack of access to medicines, rising poverty and unemployment. He called on the Council to take urgent and practical action to improve the human rights situation in the occupied territories and to have the Israeli blockade lifted. He requested that the matter should be included in the Council’s agenda until the occupation had ended; the title of the item should be: “Situation in the Arab Occupied Territories”.
28. Ms. Abdel Attif (Observer for Egypt) said that the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, John Dugard, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (E/CN.4/2006/29) gave a detailed account of the violations to which the Palestinian people had been subjected in direct contradiction of the advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of the separation wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israel was depriving the Palestinians of their most basic rights to education and health, including through the imposition of an economic and financial blockade. Whatever the pretext, nothing could justify the Israeli occupation, in which innocent civilians had been killed. She requested that the Council should take practical steps in response to the violations by Israel in the occupied territories. The Council should continue to consider the matter until it had been satisfactorily resolved.
30. Mr. Alaei (Observer for the Islamic Republic of Iran) said that the gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Israeli regime in occupied Palestine and other occupied Arab territories was a cause for grave and deep concern for the international community in general and for the Islamic world in particular. Other situations, like those of migrants and indigenous peoples, particularly in Canada, were also a cause for serious concern.
33. Mr. Al-Bader (Observer for Kuwait) called on the Council to reaffirm the supremacy of international law and to take all necessary measures to put an end to Israeli violations in the Palestinian and Arab occupied territories. A commission of inquiry should be established to investigate those violations and the question should remain on the Council agenda.
35. Ms. Borsiin Bonnier (Observer for Sweden) said that the Council should work in a cooperative spirit, giving support whenever called for and not shying away from criticism where necessary. Discussions thus far had only touched on some of the most serious human rights situations such as those in Darfur, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Myanmar. Follow-up on those and other challenges was a question of responsibility and credibility for the Council. In order to make a real difference, the Council should look for different results-oriented ways and means of pursuing the issues before it and plan its sessions accordingly.
36. Mr. Berzinji (Iraq), drawing attention to Israel’s violations of the rights of the Palestinians and other Arab peoples, said that the economic situation in the occupied territories had deteriorated to a dangerous degree. The Council should do everything in its power to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and the violation of their human rights. He requested that a commission be formed to investigate the human rights situation in the occupied territories and called on the international community to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached the Palestinian people.
37. He expressed the hope that the Council would live up to expectations by protecting the human rights of Palestinians and ensuring a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The Council should also play a role in promoting a culture of understanding and tolerance between civilizations. Islam should not be equated with terrorism: indeed, terrorist acts were against the teachings of Islam. Therefore, freedom of expression should be promoted without defaming religions.
38. Mr. Tichenor (Observer for the United States of America) ...
39. Despite the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the ultimate goal, as far as the United States was concerned, remained two independent States living side by side in peace and security. Sadly, with a Hamas Palestinian Government calling for the destruction of Israel, that long sought-after goal remained elusive. The Council must be intellectually honest: all those present were concerned about the violations of the human rights of Palestinians, just as they must be in equal measure about indiscriminate terror attacks on innocent Israelis. The Council should address those concerns, including through the universal periodic review mechanism. Pragmatic solutions such as greater OHCHR engagement in Gaza and the West Bank could also make a real difference in many lives.
44. Mr. Acharya (Observer for Nepal) expressed deep concern over the escalating violence and the deteriorating security and human rights situation in the Middle East and called for action to improve the human rights situation in Palestine. It was to be hoped that a negotiated settlement, based on a two-State solution, could be reached, as it would have a positive effect on human rights in the Middle East.
47. Ms. Alqassimi (Observer for the United Arab Emirates) said that the creation of the Human Rights Council marked the beginning of a new phase in dealing with human rights issues. There had been many human rights violations in recent decades for which solutions had yet to be found, including the situation in the occupied Arab territories, which persisted despite many international resolutions and appeals from humanitarian organizations. The state of siege under which many lived affected the most vulnerable and had all but destroyed the services provided by the international community. The extrajudicial killings and other crimes warranted an investigation into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by a commission of inquiry.
55. Mr. Littman (Association for World Education), speaking also on behalf of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, requested that the Council should issue a statement condemning calls for violence, terror or killings in the name of any religion or god.
56. Regarding incitement to hatred based on religion in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, the current Government of the Palestinian Authority had adopted an instrument characterizing initiatives to find peaceful solutions as contrary to the aims of the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas. It appeared then that a peaceful solution could not be found as long as Hamas remained in power.
86. Mr. Musa (Observer for Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he wished to assure the representative of Israel and the Council that the Palestinian Authority had been working intensively to secure the release of the Israeli soldier captured on the previous day and to ensure his well-being. The military base from which the soldier had been captured had been used to fire missiles indiscriminately into Rafah and Khan Younis and, on 13 June 2006, one such missile had killed 18 members of the same family. It should also be recorded that the occupying power had abducted Palestinian civilians during its daily incursions into Palestinian towns. Some 9,000 civilians, of whom 600 were children, were currently imprisoned in Israel. The Council should call on Israel to set them free.
87. Mr. Ja`afari (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the human rights violations committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which included an economic blockade and famine, were without parallel. Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian victims who lost their lives as a result of Israeli action went unacknowledged. Israel had ceaselessly attacked its neighbours for 39 years. Incitement of hatred and defamation of religion, including vis-à-vis Islam and Muslims, could be found in the material provided in Israeli school programmes. His delegation could provide a documentary film showing that Israel had turned mosques into barns for breeding animals and into nightclubs. A successful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would require Israel to accept a solution acceptable to all and not just to one side. Any peace in the region would need to be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), as well as the Madrid and Arab peace initiatives.
The meeting rose at 3.15 p.m.