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Summary record of the 16th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 11 October 2002, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Wenaweser .......................................... (Liechtenstein)
Agenda item 102: Advancement of women (continued)
Agenda item 103: Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century” (continued)
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 102: Advancement of women (continued ) (A/57/3, 38 (Part I), 125, 169-171, 330 and Add.1, 406, 432, 447; A/57/129-E/2002/77)
Agenda item 103: Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century” (continued) (A/57/3, 286)
31. Mr. Chowdhury (Bangladesh) ...
35. At the international level, particular importance should be attached to the situation of women in armed conflicts, violence against women and trafficking in women and girls, as well as the suffering endured by women living under occupation, such as in Palestine. With regard to crimes committed in the name of honour, he said that cruelty to women could not promote honour in a society. He recalled that it had been during the Bangladesh Presidency of the Security Council in March 2000 that the very first statement on women and peace had been made on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) should be applied universally and, although progress had been achieved, much remained to be done in order to ensure better representation of women at all levels in the decision-making process concerning conflicts.
55. Mr. Cherif (Tunisia) ...
61. Noting his deep concern regarding the daily violence suffered by the Palestinians, he said, by way of conclusion, that it was the international community’s responsibility to put an end to Israeli practices and to induce Israel to abide by international law and international humanitarian law, as well as by the relevant Security Council resolutions.
62. Mr. Ahmad (Iraq) ...
66. He also drew attention to the situation in the Palestinian occupied territories, where the rights of women were being flouted as a result of the policy being carried out by the Israeli occupying forces (settlements, expulsion, destruction of infrastructure, embargo and murder). The international community must firmly condemn such barbarous actions, which violated basic human rights.
67. Ms. Alhaj-Ali (Syrian Arab Republic) ...
69. Her delegation hoped that the international community would follow up the Beijing Platform for Action and the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly without applying double standards. Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese women living under Israeli occupation in the Syrian Golan, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon were constantly being deprived of all their rights, including protection, health care, education and employment, and they were subjected to the worst forms of discrimination as a result of the Israeli policy of repression, colonization and economic embargo.
70. Women’s groups in the Syrian Arab Republic, in collaboration with interested international organizations, would continue to monitor the situation of Syrian women living in the occupied Syrian Golan in order to help them win back their rights. Without an end to the occupation of those territories and a return to peace, any discussion of the advancement of women would be pointless.
71. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) said that, while her delegation conceded that significant progress had been made, there was still a long way to go. The international community must continue and intensify its efforts in order to attain the goals of advancement and empowerment of women.
72. The aspirations of Palestinian women were no different from those of other women; however, they had suffered under 35 years of Israeli occupation and, over the past two years, any attempt to implement a viable plan of action for women had proved nearly impossible. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, had deteriorated at an alarming rate, impacting all aspects of the lives of Palestinian families. Numerous United Nations reports had described that situation and warned of the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe.
73. Since September 2000, the Palestinian people had been the victims of flagrant violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces: 1,860 civilians, including many women and children, had been killed and more than 35,000 people had been injured; thousands of families had been left homeless when their homes had been damaged or demolished; the Israeli occupation forces had confiscated or destroyed thousands of hectares of Palestinian agricultural land, robbing the inhabitants of their livelihood, and Palestinian families, illegally confined within enclaves by the construction of Israeli settlements and bypass roads, were living in a state of “apartheid”.
74. Israel, the occupying Power, also continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, including humanitarian and medical aid and United Nations personnel, making rapid access to hospitals difficult; that in turn led to medical complications and sometimes death.
75. The military siege imposed by Israel had totally disrupted the lives of Palestinian people causing a dire humanitarian crisis that had lasted for many months. The deteriorating economic situation and the closure of areas of territory had negatively affected the nutritional status of women and children, and disruptions in the provision of health services would certainly have long-term consequences for the health of the population. More than 1,000 days of schooling had been lost, and 75 per cent of Palestinians were living below the poverty line. The severity of the aggression and constant violence suffered by Palestinian women could not be overemphasized. Violence also caused psychological trauma, and many women were living in fear and anxiety.
76. Women’s organizations, among others, had suffered considerable financial losses owing to the policies and measures imposed by Israel; such losses had severely curtailed their ability to help those most in need and deepened the problems facing Palestinian women.
77. One could not seriously address the advancement of the Palestinian people, particularly Palestinian women, while the Israeli occupation continued. The international community must take urgent action; the Israeli occupation must end and a Palestinian State must be established. Only then could a just and lasting peace be achieved, resulting in a dramatic improvement in the situation, not only of women but of the Palestinian population as a whole.
Rights of reply
117. Mr. Tamir (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that, to illustrate the number of innocent victims of Palestinian terror, he would cite the case of a young woman of 28 who had worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had been killed on 10 March 2002 with 10 of her friends in the bombing of a café in Jerusalem, as well as that of an elderly woman of 72 killed in the bombing of a bus on 10 October in Tel Aviv; 12 other civilians had also been wounded. He noted that a growing number of Palestinian women were becoming involved in terrorism and suicide attacks, while Palestinian mothers supported the “heroic” acts of their children. He would have liked to hear the Observer for Palestine unequivocally condemn acts of terror and violence.
118. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) said that the statement by the representative of Israel falsified or distorted the facts. She recalled that, on the Palestinian side, 1,860 persons had been killed, and that Palestine condemned all acts of terror against civilians. Israel continued to oppose efforts to resume political negotiations; it preferred to pursue its military campaign, which fed the cycle of violence and increased the number of victims. The situation continued to deteriorate, blocking any progress towards a solution. Even during periods of calm, Israel had not stopped its military assaults, preventing any return to normalcy for the Palestinians living under its occupation. Once again, on 7 October, 17 Palestinians had been killed, an act which had been condemned by the United Nations Secretary-General and the international community including the United States, but which the Israeli Prime Minister had reported to be a success. Palestine believed that there was no military solution to the conflict, as the Secretary-General and the international community had repeated many times. Israeli policy and actions must reflect that same belief in order to put an end to the bloodletting and the deteriorating situation in the field.
The meeting rose at 1.10 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.