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        General Assembly
2 February 2010

Original: English

Sixty-fourth session
Official Records

Third Committee

Summary record of the 37th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 2 November 2009, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. Penke (Latvia)



Agenda item 68: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)

The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.


Agenda item 68: Right of peoples to self-determination (A/64/311 and A/64/360) (continued)

1. Ms. Shawish (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) ...


3. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya supported the right of peoples to self-determination and control over their own resources, in accordance with international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law. In that context, it was deeply concerned at the continued suffering of the Palestinian people living in the Occupied Territories, despite the numerous United Nations resolutions recognizing their right to self-determination and to live with dignity in a viable, independent and sovereign State.


7. Mr. Sial (Pakistan) said that most of the Member States of the United Nations had gained their independence through universal recognition of the right to self-determination, a right which continued to engender hope among millions of vulnerable people. Self-determination could not be freely exercised under foreign occupation: the forcible occupation of the territory of a people whose right to self-determination had been recognized was a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. However, legitimate struggles for self-determination could not be equated with terrorism. Pakistan had gained its independence by exercising the right to self-determination and therefore extended support to all other peoples entitled to exercise that right, including the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir and of Palestine.


9. Mr. Attiya (Egypt) said the right to self-determination was an acknowledgement of the entitlement of peoples under foreign occupation to resist occupation, as sacred as the right to self-defence against those who illegally imposed their economic or military power, disregarding their commitments to human rights and their claims to be proponents of democracy and freedoms. The situation of the Palestinian people was a stark example. Israel claimed to be the only democracy in the Middle East, yet it continued to occupy others’ lands by force and commit human rights violations, in clear disregard for the principles of democracy.


11. Human rights could be respected only if selectivity, politicization and double standards were left aside. The Human Rights Council could address the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory only if there was a determined effort to ensure Israel’s adherence to international obligations and its full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967 and the Human Rights Council’s fact-finding missions.

12. Having considered the Secretary-General’s report on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (A/64/360), Egypt looked forward to the inclusion in the subsequent report of specific recommendations to facilitate the role of the Human Rights Council in addressing Israel’s human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The reports of Judge Goldstone and the Special Rapporteur had identified gross human rights violations in Gaza that amounted to war crimes and were counter to Israel’s commitments as the occupying Power.

13. The protracted occupation had multiplied the negative impacts on the population, including the ongoing blockades and economic stranglehold, the obstruction of access to humanitarian assistance, demolition of houses and the Judaization of East Jerusalem. The continuing settlement expansion, land confiscation, crossing closures and the separation Wall were all detrimental to the contiguity of Palestinian lands and to the confidence-building measures. They were compounded by recurring Israeli violations of its commitments under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, particularly in relation to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to food and the right to mental and physical health.

14. The United Nations should strengthen its role in the Quartet and the confidence-building efforts to ensure respect for the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arab peoples suffering from occupation until peace was achieved on the basis of the terms of reference of the Madrid peace process. A negotiated peace should include a full withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967 and enjoyment of the right to self-determination and all other human rights. As the Second International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism was drawing to a close in 2010, the United Nations should reaffirm its commitment to implementing the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

15. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) said that for 42 years, the Palestinian people had endured constant threats to their national existence and systematic violations of their human rights. Israel’s occupation had denied them their most basic rights and freedoms, including the rights to self-determination, life, liberty and security of persons, movement, livelihood, education, property and development. There were illegal settlements, closures, checkpoints, home demolitions, land confiscation, destruction of civilian infrastructure and wanton killings by illegal settlers and occupying forces. The vicious siege of the Gaza Strip and the 1.4 million Palestinians living there had continued for over two years.

16. Israel’s continuing strangulation of the Palestinian people and entrenchment of its illegal occupation had been the most obvious manifestation of the denial of the right to self-determination. In complete defiance of the international community and international law, United Nations resolutions and the International Court of Justice, Israel was carrying out a massive colonization campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, illegally constructing and expanding settlements and the Wall, which was intended to fortify and protect the settlements. That action was especially intense in and around occupied East Jerusalem, and Israel was actively obstructing Palestinian access to the city and physically separating it from the rest of the Territory.

17. According to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, construction of the Wall and other measures were a breach of Israel’s obligation to respect the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. The illegal practices undermined the territorial unity and integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in which the Palestinian people were striving to establish their independent State. The international community should continue to demand Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law. Without a freeze on settlements and their eventual dismantlement, there would be no Palestinian State to negotiate and no two-State solution. An immediate and comprehensive settlement freeze had been a consistent requirement for the resumption of negotiations.

18. Year after year her delegation drew attention to the continuing denial and violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Peace could never be achieved by subjugating an entire people and denying their inalienable rights. The Palestinian people, despite their suffering, would never give in to oppression, subjugation and injustice. They would continue to aspire to freedom and independence until the Israeli occupation ended and they could live a normal, free life in the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


22. Mr. Mamdouhi (Iran) ...


25. Special attention should be given to the rights of people living under prolonged occupation who suffered racist and discriminatory policies and practices on a daily basis. Systematic human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, emanating from the racial attitudes of the occupying Power, remained a matter of deep concern. The international community should continue to address its responsibility to eliminate all forms of racism and to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.

26. Mr. Al-Mutairi (Kuwait) ...


27. Kuwait strongly condemned the Israeli violations of the basic rights of the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territory, stressing the need to protect them from discriminatory and isolating policies exemplified by the separation wall built by Israel. The report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict confirmed Israel’s perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

28. Mr. Mamdouhi (Iran) said that the right to self-determination was fundamental for realization of all the other rights of the Palestinian people. The Israeli regime had obstructed the realization of that right for 60 years, causing human rights violations, suffering and instability. Several specific United Nations resolutions had for decades reaffirmed the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. In January 2009, the Human Rights Council had decided in its resolution S-9/1 to dispatch an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Gaza Strip. The report of that mission, the Goldstone report (A/HRC/12/48), had confirmed that gross human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed during the military aggression by the occupying regime.

29. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 had stated in his report to the General Assembly (A/64/328) that the situation in Gaza had continued to deteriorate and that there were grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and violations of international human rights law. The blockade was keeping out basic necessities, health conditions had further worsened and building materials needed because of destruction during the 22-day Gaza War had been disallowed entry. The United Nations should take action to protect the civilian population.

30. The Zionist regime refused to comply with the ICJ advisory opinion that construction of the Wall severely impeded the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Its refusal to withdraw from all Palestinian territories and its continuation of settlements were a manifest mockery of justice and human rights. The regime should return their ancestral lands to the people of Palestine. The rejection of their right to self-determination through the occupation was a grave denial of fundamental human rights. Concrete measures should be taken to address the occupying Power’s non-cooperation. The Palestinian people should be able to freely determine their political status and pursue their development, with the return of refugees to their homes and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.


42. Mr. Schlosser (Israel) said that the Israeli people, and indeed all Jews, understood the need to confront all forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance. Despite near-universal ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, there had been an alarming rise in racist acts, and racism and xenophobia were creeping into national agendas and mainstream speech. Anti-Semitism, often in the guise of anti-Zionism, must be unmasked, not mistaken for ordinary political discourse. Showing absolute disregard for the Charter of the United Nations, the Iranian President repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, a Member State, before the General Assembly and denied the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. In the light of such sentiments, he hoped that the Palestinian people would find better friends. It was regrettable that the Durban process, the declared purpose of which was to address prejudice, had been tainted by its focus on the Middle East conflict, which was political, not racial, in nature.


45. Mr. Hariprasad (India) ...


47. An active supporter of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and exercise of its inalienable rights, India believed that the solution to the Palestine issue should be based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and the road map to Mideast peace, resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine within secure and recognized borders.


50. Mr. Hijazi (Observer for Palestine) said that the effects of racism went beyond the deep-seated scars sustained by its victims, severing the bonds between cultures and communities and replacing cultural tolerance with fear, suspicion and violence. The previous century of Palestinian experience stood as a painful testament to how racism had destroyed the history and future of an entire people, beginning with the unlawful promise of the Palestinian homeland by those who did not have rights to it to another people. Palestine refugees — who constituted the majority of the Palestinian people — continued to be subjected to the harshest manifestations of racism by the occupying Power.

51. In the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Judge Richard Goldstone had concluded that Israel’s application of its domestic laws throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory had resulted in institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians living in the Territory, to the benefit of illegal Israeli settlers and in contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law. Israel used nearly 40 per cent of the Occupied West Bank for settlement-related purposes, restricting Palestinian movement and access to land, water and livelihood in order to allow Israeli settlers to circulate freely. Israel had also adopted laws that openly discriminated against its Palestinian citizens, such as the bill introduced by the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party outlawing the commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba. The appointment of extremist Avigdor Lieberman, who had advocated for the expulsion of Palestinian Israelis from Israel, as Foreign Minister, spoke volumes about the degenerate racism driving Israeli policy. Palestinian citizens of Israel showed admirable courage in confronting the right-wing campaign that portrayed them as a demographic time bomb and a fifth column.

52. Yielding to Israel’s demand for recognition of its supposed Jewish nature would require Palestinians to forgo their history and rights and endorse a racist attitude that ran counter to the modern notion of democratic political systems based on the equal rights of all citizens of the State, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation. Israel, the occupying Power, held the dubious distinction of being the most frequent violator of international conventions and international humanitarian law. In order to give the two-State solution a real chance, Israel must refrain from all illegal actions, including construction of the separation wall and destruction of thousands of homes, and bring 42 years of racist occupation to an end.


59. Ms. Halabi (Syrian Arab Republic) ...


60. There had been a drastic rise in racially discriminatory policies in the Middle East. The Palestinian people continued to be subjected to targeted killing in an attempt to eliminate or expel them and to prevent them from pursuing their legitimate claims. Illegal settlements continued to be built in the Occupied Territories along plainly racial and religious lines, in order to alter the demographic situation on the ground. In that context, there was an urgent need for resolute and concerted international action to eradicate such dangerous phenomena.

61. With regard to self-determination, the Syrian Arab Republic had acceded to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries in 2008. Her Government deplored the human rights violations committed by Israel, in particular its denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, in spite of repeated demands for it to abide by its obligations under international law. It was unfortunate that the United Nations remained unable to take action against Israel’s violations and live up to its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people.

Statements made in exercise of the right of reply


66. Mr. Mamdouhi (Islamic Republic of Iran), in reply to comments made by the representative of the regime of the occupied Palestinian territories, said that he rejected the absurd distortions of truth put forward by that representative and its baseless allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran. He condemned the misuse of the Committee’s debates to pursue unwarranted political goals. His country had always condemned acts of war or destruction against any country or entity, as well as genocide against any race, ethnic group or religious group, as a crime against humanity. There could be no explanation for the Zionist regime’s unfortunate attempts to display innocence and to exploit its past crimes as a pretext for committing further acts of genocide and crimes against humanity, such as those committed by the occupying Power during the 22-day military aggression against the defenceless people of the Gaza Strip. It had resulted in the brutal massacre of more than 400 civilians and the injuring of thousands more, including many innocent women and children. The long-lasting occupation and brutality against innocent Palestinian people and the violation of their basic human rights on a daily basis did not establish any kind of legitimacy or reason to impede their right to self-determination.


72. Mr. Schlosser (Israel) said that the observer for Palestine, despite his suggestion to leave rhetoric aside and move to action in the peace process, had made a rhetorical and entirely one-sided statement. He had not referred to the long struggle of the Palestinian people to destroy Israel through terror, Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 or the taking of control in Gaza by Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that continued to launch missiles on Israeli cities deliberately and indiscriminately. The Israeli foreign Minister had been criticized and intentionally misquoted. That was the kind of rhetoric that should be avoided if peace was to be achieved.

73. He would not respond to the comments of Syria, a country which was not exactly a hero of human rights. Syria’s own citizens could enjoy more freedom and full civil rights were not granted to the Palestinians living in Syria. The Islamic Republic of Iran, as usual, failed to mention the name of Israel, a Member State of the United Nations, once again confirming its denial of the right of the people of Israel to self-determination. It was unfortunate that his Palestinian colleague did not distance himself from that kind of support.


75. Mr. Hijazi (Observer for Palestine), in reply to comments made by the representative of Israel, said that he had not made unfounded claims but had referred to a well-documented reality. An outstanding Israeli peace activist, Uri Davis, had begun documenting Israeli apartheid as far back as 1987 in his book “Israel: an apartheid State”. He and other courageous writers believed in equality and abhorred racism and were committed to countering it. Yet they were not really attacking the State of Israel but rather defending it. Some world leaders had also broken their silence after years of diplomatic efforts to end Israeli racism without having to label it as such. Former United States President Jimmy Carter had published his book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid” in 2006. Any reputable international organization or group examining the events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, would correctly conclude that racism and discrimination were at the heart of the reality that Palestinians suffered under Israeli occupation.

76. The Goldstone report (A/HRC/12/48) had also documented that reality. The Palestinians’ long and legitimate struggle was supported by the international community, while Israel had the unenviable position of being the single most frequent violator of international humanitarian law and conventions, Security Council resolutions and General Assembly resolution 181 (II), the resolution that founded the State of Israel. As for Gaza and the internal Palestinian situation, he had not yet referred to the arming of Israeli settlers and the militias which uprooted trees and killed and tortured Palestinians on a daily basis. He had not yet referred to the mafia that made bombs and caused explosions. As for the supposed withdrawal from Gaza, it had left Gaza in a state of medieval siege that prevented the entry of food or fuel and denied every right while Israel waged a war that everyone described as barbaric.

77. Ms. Halabi (Syrian Arab Republic) categorically rejected the allegations made by the representative of a State that, given its record of occupation, perpetration of the most abominable forms of racism and violation of human rights, was unfit to discuss her country’s human rights situation. The Syrian Arab Republic had never occupied the territories of another country, nor had it ever attacked a neighbouring country. Furthermore, the 2008 report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (A/64/13) attested to the legal measures adopted by the Syrian Government to ensure equal treatment of Palestine refugees before the law while preserving their Palestinian citizenship until their return to their country, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 1948.

78. Mr. Mamdouhi (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that the issue at stake was not the occupying regime’s name but rather its distortion of the facts in order to evade its main dilemma, namely, the lack of legitimacy that arose from more than 60 years of occupation and brutality in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.


The meeting rose at 5.55 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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