Question of Palestine home
9 November 1998
Summary record of the 39th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 9 November 1998, at 10 a.m.
: Mrs. Sandru (Vice-Chairman) .................................... (Romania)
Agenda item 110: Human rights questions (
(b) Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (
(c) Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (
(e) Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (
Organization of work
The meeting was called to order at 10.35 a.m.
(e) Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
) (A/53/36, Suppl. No. 36)
(Israel), speaking on agenda items 110 (b) and (d), said that the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, established in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust, were the very principles which had provided the foundation for the establishment of the State of Israel.
34. Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 specifically upheld the principles of development based on freedom, justice and peace, complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex and the safeguarding of the holy places of all religions.
35. Before the adoption of a formal constitution, those rights were codified as part of the basic legal system and were guaranteed by the Supreme Court, which had taken a number of initiatives from the beginning to promote the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Supreme Court, also sitting as the High Court of Justice, hears complaints on issues affecting Israel’s particular situation. For example, it hears petitions brought before it by Palestinians concerning acts committed by the Israeli authorities in the territories under Israeli administration, stressing Israel’s concern for human rights, including those of Palestinians. That situation was without precedent in any military administration.
36. Since the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Israel had taken important steps towards strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights. It had promoted those objectives in the Government, non-governmental organizations and the academic world, working hard to raise public awareness about the rights of the child, the disabled and older persons.
37. In that context, the human rights triumph achieved in the past five years was certainly not negligible: the signing of the peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993, followed by a series of implementation agreements of which the Wye Memorandum was the most recent example, as well as peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, bringing peace and prosperity to all the peoples involved.
38. Peace was the gateway to human rights since it guaranteed the right to life. It also provided the impetus for regional cooperation arrangements such as the Barcelona process of cooperation of the Mediterranean countries.
39. After 50 years of independence, however, Israel still faced the threat of war and was exposed to terrorist attacks. Since the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements was signed in 1993, some 251 Israelis had been killed and nearly 1,600 had been injured in terrorist attacks. Israel was therefore forced to continue to take security measures to protect the lives and security of its people.
40. In that connection, her delegation was dismayed by the remarks of the representative of Lebanon, who seemed to take every opportunity, no matter how remote the issue at hand, to attack Israel and to connect human rights with the measures that Israel was obliged to take in response to terrorist attacks and bombardments launched from within Lebanese territory. Israel reiterated its readiness to implement resolution 425 (1978) and bring about peace and respect for human rights on both sides of the border.
41. Although Israel had to take steps in self-defence, it continued to recognize the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and strove to enforce it in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of its government in cooperation with non-governmental organizations.
The meeting rose at 12.25 p.m.