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About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Journée internationale de solidarité 2015 - Réunion spéciale du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien - Procès-Verbal Français

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Source: General Assembly
23 November 2015


Official Records


General Assembly

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable
Rights of the Palestinian People

374th meeting
Monday, 23 November 2015, 10 a.m.
New York

Chair: Mr. Seck ................................................(Senegal)
In the absence of the Chair, Mr. Percaya (Indonesia), Vice-Chair, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

The Acting Chair This is a special mmeeting to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with the provisions of resolution 32/40 B, of 2 December 1977.

It is my honour and pleasure to welcome His Excellency Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly; His Excellency Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General and representative of the Secretary-General; His Excellency Mr. Matthew Rycroft, President of the Security Council; His Excellency Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations and representative of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at this meeting; His Excellency Mr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka and Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; and Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

I also welcome the representatives of Member States, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and all those who have accepted the Committee's invitation to participate in this special meeting.

Our special thanks also go to Mr. Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer and Staff Attorney of Defence for Children International, who has kindly accepted the Committee's invitation to participate in this meeting to deliver a message on behalf of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine.

Allow me at this point to make a statement on behalf of the Committee.

As we observe in advance the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, marked on 29 November, let us remind ourselves of the meaning of the Day. The date of 29 November was chosen as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People because of its significance to the Palestinian people. On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to be known as the Partition Resolution. The resolution provided for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish State and an Arab State, with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under a special international regime. The State of Israel came into being in the following year. The State of Palestine is now occupied and is being denied the same rights the State of Israel enjoys, including the right to self-determination and the right to national independence and sovereignty.

Today, 68 years after the adoption of resolution 181 (II), we are witnessing a serious crisis on the ground once again. As Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson rightly said during his latest briefing to the Security Council,

In fact, the matrix of occupation continues to grow in the Palestinian territory. Despite the repeated calls of the international community for Israel to cease to expand its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, it continues to do so, in contravention of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which both Israel and Palestine are States parties. The applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, has been repeatedly confirmed by numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, as well as by the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the latest meeting of which was held last December. Moreover, in article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the State of Palestine acceded this year, the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies is defined as a war crime.

Israeli-only highways cut through the occupied West Bank, separating Palestinian cities and villages from one another. Israeli civilian law is applied to settlers in the occupied West Bank, while Palestinians are subjected to Israeli military law. While Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank enjoy swimming in pools in the summer, Palestinians suffer from shortages of drinking water. In the twenty-first century, we should not be seeing a system in which one group is treated favourably over another. Frictions between illegal Israeli settlers and local Palestinian residents often lead to unnecessary violence, resulting in injuries and deaths, as we recently witnessed. Gaza is also often called an open-air prison, with access to the outside world blocked through the land, sea and air. Prison is probably not the right word, as prisons have roofs, electricity and running water and meals are provided. Most of the more than 150,000 homes destroyed during the 2014 war have not been rebuilt, with many people remaining homeless. Electricity shortages are disrupting the daily lives of 1.8 million residents, disabling hospitals, sewage and desalination plants. Over 90 per cent of water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. The poverty rate is a staggering 40 per cent.

That is why there needs to be a two-State solution — two peoples enjoying the same rights in their own countries — the fully independent, contiguous and prosperous State of Palestine living side-by-side in peace with the secure State of Israel. History teaches us that an unhappy neighbour makes one unsafe. Freedom for Palestinians is security for Israelis. Prospects for Palestinians mean peace of mind for Israelis. The development of the Palestinian economy is growth of the Israeli economy. A winner of the Nobel Prize in economics famously said that development was synonymous with freedom. The Palestinian people must be freed from inhumane occupation, discrimination and subjugation.

While 29 November is dubbed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is in fact a symbolic day for the Israeli people too, as resolution 181 (II) led to the birth of their State. On this solemn occasion, let us all go back to the spirit of resolution 181 (II) — two States for two peoples, with arrangements for the holy sites in Jerusalem to be accessible to people of all religions.

The United Nations, which produced resolution 181 (II), has a permanent responsibility until the question of Palestine is resolved in all its aspects. Today, our Committee renews its call on all States Members of the United Nations and members of the international community to play their own part in contributing to the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

I now have the honour to give the floor to the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft.

Mr. Lykketoft (President of the General Assembly): Let me begin by thanking the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for organizing this special meeting.

I align myself with the statement just delivered by the Acting Chair.

I commend the Committee for the activities it has led this year to raise awareness of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and the conditions endured by the Palestinian people.

It has been 40 years since the General Assembly established the Committee. It did so because, by that time, no progress had been achieved towards the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights. Those rights include the right to self-determination without internal interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty and the right to return to their homes from which they were displaced. Today, as we mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, those rights remain unfulfilled. Key United Nations principles — the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, equal rights and the self-determination of peoples — continue to be violated. In addition, the General Assembly has repeatedly affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The Assembly has also repeatedly affirmed the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.

I am therefore gravely concerned by the continuing expansion of settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the revocation of residency rights and the eviction and displacement of numerous Palestinian families from East Jerusalem in contravention of international law. I saw and heard about all of that during my visit to the occupied Palestinian territories as Speaker of the Danish Parliament in February of last year. Such actions do not contribute to peace. Rather, they have become the major impediment and serve only to increase tension.

I am also deeply concerned by the severe humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip following the war in the summer of 2014, as was clearly described in the statement by the Acting Chair. Efforts to address that humanitarian catastrophe and rebuild the homes and lives of thousands of residents affected by the 51-day war have been very slow. The blockade and the unfulfilled pledges by donors need to be addressed with urgency.

This year's Solidarity Day, however, is taking place during a recent escalation in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The wave of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory continues. I therefore call for all involved to bring an end to the violence and for strict compliance with international law. I would also like to stress the importance of upholding the historic status quo at the holy sites, including Al-Haram Al-Sharif. I urge all Israeli and Palestinian leaders to de-escalate tensions and to refrain from provocative actions, incitements and inflammatory rhetoric.

Against that backdrop and the incredible instability right across the region, a lasting solution to this long­standing conflict must be found. The occupation of Palestinian territory must be brought to an end without further delay, thereby opening the way for the establishment of a State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security and within recognized borders based on the pre-1967 lines.

On 30 September 2015, we raised the flag of the State of Palestine at the Headquarters, here in New York. It was a symbolic and timely acknowledgement of the contribution of the Palestinian people to addressing our common challenges. But it was also a reminder of the urgent need for a peaceful settlement on the ground. It is my hope, therefore, that the international community will redouble its efforts to find such a settlement and that efforts by the Security Council will bear fruit this year. Diplomatic initiatives of the Quartet, which reaffirmed its commitment to actively support a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, are welcome and should be pursued. I call on both parties to return to meaningful negotiations within a pre-established time frame.

Simply put, the Palestinian people have waited too long. On the Organization's momentous seventieth anniversary, let us recall the ideals of peace, unity and human rights at the heart of the Charter of the United Nations. And let us use those ideals to inspire new momentum to find a lasting solution to the long­standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Acting Chair: I thank the President of the General Assembly for his important statement. The Committee is thankful for his stewardship of the Assembly in dealing with the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the Middle East as a whole.

I now have the honour to give the floor to Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.

The Deputy Secretary-General: I present this statement on behalf of the Secretary-General, who is travelling today.

The Acting Chair: I would like to thank the Deputy Secretary-General for taking time out of his busy schedule to participate in this special meeting of the Committee, and to ask him to convey to the Secretary-General the Committee's sincere appreciation for his important message and our support for his personal efforts to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.

I now have the honour of giving the floor to the President of the Security Council, His Excellency Mr. Matthew Rycroft.

Mr. Rycroft (United Kingdom), President of the Security Council: I would like to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for inviting me to address today's meeting in my capacity as President of the Security Council for November.

The situation in the Middle East remains a key concern for the Security Council, not least because of the lack of progress in finding a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Council continues to actively support efforts to achieve a two-State solution and remains fully committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the relevant Security Council resolutions; the Madrid terms of reference, including land for peace; the road map for peace in the Middle East; and the Arab Peace Initiative.

The Council continues to receive monthly briefings from the Secretary-General's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and from the Department of Political Affairs, and to hold open debates on the Middle East on a quarterly basis. The Council had an opportunity to hear directly from the Secretary-General at an emergency meeting on 21 October, following his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. In a press statement on 17 September, the Council called for the exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric and upholding unchanged the historic status quo at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, in word and in practice. Members also reiterated the importance of the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as confirmed in the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

Council members are concerned about the ongoing violence directed at both Israelis and Palestinians. The Council calls upon both parties to encourage calm and avoid escalating the situation through word or deed. In that regard, the Council members have expressed their deep concern about Israel's settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many members view those acts as illegal or illegitimate and believe that they do not help promote prospects for peace. They provide a catalyst for further tensions and jeopardize the viability of a two-State solution. The members of the Council call for full respect for international law.

Turning to Gaza, the Council met on 23 July (see S/PV.7470) to reflect one year after the hostilities of last summer. Council members are concerned about the lack of progress on the humanitarian situation. They welcome the progress of the tripartite agreement reached between the United Nations, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There is, however, disappointment at the slow pace of reconstruction and agreement that more must be done to advance reconstruction efforts, including calling on all donors to fulfil their financial pledges to aid the reconstruction efforts in Gaza without delay. The Council continues to recognize and commend the vital role played by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), along with other United Nations and humanitarian organizations, in addressing the critical humanitarian needs in Gaza. The Security Council applauds the efforts of UNRWA to assist

Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and expresses the hope that the international community will increase its support to the Agency. Council members welcome donors' additional contributions and the steps taken by the Agency itself to reduce its general fund deficit, which have enabled it to better safeguard the delivery of its services.

The Council welcomes efforts made by the Quartet to drive forward improvements on the ground. That is vital in the absence of peace talks and for preserving the viability of a negotiated two-State solution that resolves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Council members also acknowledge the efforts made by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to realize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

In conclusion, the Security Council will continue its efforts to build an environment conducive to peace in order to achieve our common goal of a two-State solution and the peace and security that the Israeli and Palestinian people both deserve.

The Acting Chair: I thank the President of the Security Council for his important statement, which reaffirms the Council's continued full commitment to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, who will read out a message from His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine.

Mr. Mansour (Palestine): It gives me great pleasure to read out a statement from His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

(spoke in Arabic)

The Acting Chair: I would like to ask Ambassador Mansour to convey our sincere thanks and greetings to President Mahmoud Abbas for his very important message. I would also like to assure President Abbas and, through him, the Palestinian people, of our Committee’s firm commitment to continue its efforts, as mandated by the General Assembly, with a view to promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine.

On behalf of the Committee, I would like to once again thank the President of the General Assembly, the Deputy Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council for their presence and contribution to this important meeting. A similar expression of appreciation also goes to Mr. Jeffrey Feltman.

I now have the pleasure of giving the floor to His Excellency Mr. Gholamali Khoshroo, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who will read out a message from His Excellency Mr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

Mr. Khoshroo (Islamic Republic of Iran): I have the honour to address this important meeting on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

I now give the floor to Mr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

Mr. Perera (Sri Lanka), Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories: I am honoured to speak today in my capacity as Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is marked on 29 November, the day that the General Assembly, in 1947, adopted resolution 181 (II), on the establishment of the States of Palestine and Israel. Therefore, this day is a reminder to the United Nations and the international community of a goal that is yet to be achieved and of our continuing responsibility to find a peaceful and just solution to what is being referred to as the "Palestinian question" — in essence, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. On this day, we stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine who, despite great challenges and suffering for more than five decades, have not given up the hope to attain their legitimate rights. The aspirations of the international community are sustained and renewed by the determination and resilience of the Palestinian people.

Last week, I presented to the Fourth Committee the forty-seventh report of the Special Committee (see A/70/406) — comprising Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Senegal — examining the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan. During our mission to Amman in August, the Committee was seriously disturbed by the situation of human rights in the occupied territories, as evidenced by the testimonies we heard from civil society representatives, victims and witnesses of Israeli violations, as well as Palestinian and United Nations officials.

The Acting Chair: I thank Mr. Khoshroo and request that he confer to His Excellency Mr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the sincere thanks of the Committee for his very important statement in his capacity as Chair of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

Some of the key concerns brought to the attention of the Committee during its mission include continuing settlement activity; settler violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem; excessive use of force by Israeli security forces; tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque; the situation of Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody; corporate involvement in the settlements and the occupied territories, in particular the exploitation of natural resources in those territories, in violation of international humanitarian law and the human rights situation in Gaza.

It was evident from the testimonies heard by the Committee in August that the continuing policy of settlement expansion and the climate of impunity relating to the activities of the settlers contribute to the escalating violence. The Committee heard that settlement activity was continuing in both the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan. In the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Committee was informed that settlement expansion was aided and abetted by restrictive planning policies for Palestinians, demolition orders on so-called illegal Palestinian homes, and settler violence, as well as through legislation used to confiscate private Palestinian property.

The Committee's report refers to disturbing testimony concerning numerous incidents involving the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces in the occupied Palestinian territories. In that regard, the Committee called on Israel to take immediate steps to ensure compliance with international standards for law enforcement and to ensure accountability for excessive use of force.

The rising tension surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has escalated in recent months, was also brought to the attention of the Committee. The Committee's report called on Israel to remove all movement restrictions within East Jerusalem and to immediately cease all excavation works below or near the Al-Aqsa compound, which may potentially cause harm to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The situation of Palestinian detainees, including women and children, remains a matter of serious concern of the Special Committee. Statistics received by the Special Committee in August indicated that there were an estimated 5,000 Palestinian detainees, including 160 children under 18 years of age, held in Israeli custody. Administrative detention is only exceptionally permitted for short periods of time under international law, but regrettably, in the occupied Palestinian territories it remains the norm.

The Committee also reported on information received in relation to the role of companies that do business with and profit from the maintenance or construction of settlements, or exploit natural resources in the occupied West Bank or the occupied Syrian Golan. The Special Committee hopes to maintain the increasing international attention and growing awareness among companies of the potential financial, legal and reputational risks of doing business in occupied territories.

The blockade of Gaza remains a key obstacle to the Palestinian people's enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights. A year after the deadly escalation of hostilities in Gaza, reconstruction lags far behind, due in part to a lack of funds, but also as a result of the continuing Israeli blockade of Gaza. As of August, only one-third of the $4 billion pledged by the international community in Cairo in October 2014 had been disbursed. Non-governmental organizations have noted that up to 100,000 Palestinians remain displaced, living in precarious conditions and struggling with access to basic services such as electricity, water, sanitation and medical services. It is therefore imperative that the international community use its influence to end the blockade of Gaza and for donor countries to honour the pledges made in Cairo and urgently disburse those funds to facilitate the ongoing reconstruction efforts.

The Committee also called on the donor countries to generate an unimpeded flow of funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to effectively discharge its mandate in the occupied territories. Sustainable peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians alike can be achieved only by ensuring real accountability and addressing the root causes of the conflict. The international community must not lose sight of the overarching goal of the two-State solution, namely, two States living side by side in peace and security with the human rights of their peoples at the core.

The Acting Chair: I thank Mr. Perera for his important statement. The Committee is very appreciative of the continuing contribution of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories to our meeting and of Sri Lanka's participation in the Committee's activities as an active observer.

I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Fathalla, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations, who will read out a message from His Excellency Mr. Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

Mr. Fathalla (League of Arab States) (spoke in Arabic):

The Acting Chair: I thank Mr. Fathalla for his statement and ask him to convey to Mr. Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the sincere appreciation of the Committee for his very important message and its strong support of our Committee's activities.

I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Ufuk Gokcen, Permanent Observer of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the United Nations, who will read a message from His Excellency Mr. Iyad Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Mr. Gokcen (Organization of Islamic Cooperation): I have the honour to read out the message of Mr. Iyad Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The Acting Chair: I thank Ambassador Gokcen for his statement on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is an active partner of the Committee.

I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, who will read out a message from Her Excellency Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Mr. Antonio (African Union): Let me start by conveying greetings on behalf of Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. She has also requested me to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for organizing this very important meeting.

The Acting Chair: I thank Ambassador Antonio for conveying the message of the African Union, which is a valuable partner of our Committee.

I now give the floor to Mr. Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer and Attorney with Defence for Children International in the nation of Palestine, who will deliver a statement on behalf of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine.

Mr. Parker (Defence for Children International): On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Defence for Children International — Palestine, an independent, local Palestinian child rights organization dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, reaffirms its commitment to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children living in the occupied Palestinian territory. For nearly 25 years, we have investigated, documented and pursued accountability for grave human rights violations against children; held Israeli and Palestinian authorities accountable to universal human rights principles; and advocated at the international and national levels to advance access to justice and protection for children.

Today, children represent nearly 50 per cent of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Instability and violence define much of their lives. Amid escalating violence and an increasingly militarized environment in which Israeli forces and settlers operate with complete impunity, Israeli forces increasingly employ excessive force and target children with live ammunition to quash protests.

Recent legislation passed by the Government of Israel, combined with systemic impunity, is amplifying an already dire situation for Palestinian children. In the past months, Israeli officials have relaxed the standard for the use of lethal force against the Palestinian population and approved harsher punitive measures against Palestinians, particularly children, accused of stone throwing or criminal conduct against Israeli Jewish citizens. In another troubling development we have also seen the renewed use of administrative detention for children.

Since 2000, Israeli forces and extremists have killed more than 2,000 Palestinian children. Repeated military offensives and an eight-year long blockade continue to devastate lives in Gaza. In 2014, Defense for Children International — Palestine verified that 535 children died — nearly 68 per cent of them age 12 and below — as a direct result of Israeli attacks during Israel's summer military assault on Gaza. For many children older than eight years, this was the sixth time they endured an Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Displacement, access to education and health care, and psychological trauma remain significant areas of concern particularly in the wake of Israel's military assault last summer. Most families with destroyed or partially damaged homes have been unable to rebuild because they lack funds and Israel's siege of Gaza restricts the necessary materials.

With massive destruction to civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, many children in Gaza continue to face limits on access to education and health care. Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank face arrest, prosecution and detention under an Israeli military court system that denies basic human rights and is notorious for the widespread, systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.

Since 1967, Israeli authorities have operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. The sole factor in determining which laws apply to a person is his or her nationality and ethnicity. Israeli military law, which fails to ensure and denies basic and fundamental rights, is applied to the whole Palestinian population. Israeli settlers and citizens living in the West Bank are subject to the Israeli civilian and criminal legal system. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military court system. Each year, around 700 Palestinian children living in the West Bank are arrested by Israeli forces and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, and three out of four experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.

Children report that Israeli interrogators use position abuse, threats and solitary confinement to coerce confessions, and in the overwhelming majority of cases Israeli authorities deprive children of legal counsel and improperly informed them of their rights during interrogation. Israeli military detention exposes Palestinian children to physical and psychological violence and prevents them from enjoying their rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child by interrupting education, contributing to mental health issues and placing large numbers of families under stress.

For Palestinian children in East Jerusalem, in theory, the Israeli Youth Law provides special safeguards and protections to children in conflict with the law during arrest, transfer, interrogation and court appearances. However, discriminatory implementation of the law deprives Palestinian children in East Jerusalem of their rights during the arrest and interrogation process. For Palestinian children in East Jerusalem, exceptions have become the rule. International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, require that children be deprived of their liberty only as a measure of last resort and include universal prohibitions against physical violence and torture, among other protections. Despite these obligations, Israeli authorities persistently disregard and fail to comply with international law.

A growing number of Palestinian children and their families live in villages and towns, hemmed in by expanding and often violent Israeli settler communities. Stationed throughout the West Bank, Israeli soldiers, police and private security firms protect settler populations at the expense of Palestinian civilians. In this hyper-militarized environment, Palestinian children face disproportionate physical violence, restricted access to education and psychological trauma.

The international community often fails to take concrete action that would challenge the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military and police for violence against Palestinian children. This provides tacit approval for Israeli forces to continue carrying out grave violations against children with impunity. Instead of growing up with a law-based, negotiated settlement founded on universal human rights principles, justice and respect for human dignity, young Palestinians have had their futures stifled and suppressed by systemic discrimination, constant settlement expansion and prolonged military occupation. The failure to address impunity or demand a vision for the future that incorporates a rights-based framework recognizing universal human rights principles, the principles of non-discrimination and equality, and respect for human dignity will ensure that an incredibly youthful population becomes increasingly vulnerable.

As tensions increase amid escalating violence, it is clear that the status quo is not sustainable. The need for justice and accountability is urgent. On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I implore the Committee to strengthen efforts to advance solidarity and challenge it to take concrete actions in response to Palestinian civil society's calls to challenge systemic impunity and end Israel's prolonged military occupation of the Palestinian people.

The Acting Chair: I thank Mr. Parker for his insightful statement.

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank all civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine throughout the world for their work in support of and in solidarity with the Palestinian people. I thank you again, Mr. Parker, for your participation and very important remarks.

It is now my honour now to announce that our Committee has received messages of support and solidarity from many Heads of State and Government, from Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Governments and organizations. In that regard, I would like to read out the list of officials who sent them, in the order they were received.

We have received messages from the following Heads of State: the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the President of the People's Republic of China, the President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the President of the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, the President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the President of the Republic of Senegal, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of Nicaragua, His Highness the President of the United Arab Emirates, the President of the Republic of Argentina, His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, the President of the Republic of Turkey, the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Republic of Maldives, the President of the Republic of Madagascar, His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Morocco and His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

We have received messages from the following Heads of Government: the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Prime Minister of India, the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Prime Minister of Lebanon.

The Committee has also received messages from the following Ministers for Foreign Affairs: the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

We have received messages from the following Governments: the Government of Tunisia, the Government of Oman, the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Lastly, the Committee has also received messages from the intergovernmental organization of the European Union and from the civil society organization of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America.

All the messages of solidarity received will be posted on the website on the question of Palestine, maintained by the Division for Palestinian Rights.

On behalf of the Committee, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Heads of State and Government, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, the Governments, the organizations that I have just mentioned and all participants for their persistent efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine and for the support they have always given to the mandated activities of this Committee.

I wish to thank everyone who has made this meeting possible, in particular the staff members of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the Department of Public Information, the Office of Central Support Services, the interpreters and everyone who worked behind the scenes.

At 3 p.m. the General Assembly will begin its debate on the question of Palestine, during which I will introduce draft resolutions A/70/L.10, A/70/L.11, A/70/L.12 and A/70/L.13 under that agenda item, and the Committee's Rapporteur, Ambassador Grima, will introduce the report of the Committee (A/70/35). We strongly encourage delegations to attend and support the adoption of the draft resolutions.

I would also like to invite representatives this evening to the inauguration of a photo exhibit entitled "Palestinian Children: Overcoming Tragedies with Hope, Dreams, Resilience and Dignity". It will be held at 6 p.m. in the Public Lobby of the General Assembly building by the curved wall area, and will be followed by a reception. I am looking forward to seeing everyone this evening.

The meeting rose at noon.


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