(Reissued as received.)
In a statement to the Commission, Hannu Halinen, Special Rapporteur on the question of violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, regretted that there had been bitterness and confrontation in the debate on the precarious political situation in the Middle East.
TORKI BEN MOHAMMED BEN SAOUD AL-KABEER, Head of International Organization Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, ...
In conclusion, he said Palestinians were still suffering from Israeli occupation. They had the right to recover their legitimate rights and exercise their self-determination. Israel's violations were not only directed at Palestinians, but also at southern Lebanon and the Syrian Golan. Israel had ignored the resolutions of the Security Council and the Commission to withdraw from the those territories.
Statements in Debate
HANNU HALINEN, Special Rapporteur on the question of violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, in concluding remarks on the discussion of the report he had submitted to the Commission (E/CN.4/1998/17), said the precarious political situation in the Middle East had been reflected in the debate, and expectedly so. There had been bitterness and confrontation, unfortunately. He had found the tone of the remarks of the representative of Israel surprising for a diplomat. He wished to stress that one simple reason for any alleged "one-sidedness" of his report was the unwillingness of Israel to cooperate with him. But he did not for a minute accept the Israeli charge that his conclusions represented only one side of the story.
He said the amount of information he received throughout the year was quite extensive, and he made a point of relying on first-hand information wherever possible. Still, the best way to ensure inclusion of the Israeli point of view would be for Israel to cooperate with his investigation. He also did not concur with the Israeli delegation's claim that his investigation was an interference in the peace process. The attempt to discredit his report was not new in this forum -- it had happened before. He fervently hoped that Israel would share the facts it claimed he lacked with him in the future, and would cooperate with the Commission's human rights mechanisms in general, so that the cause of human rights could benefit.
A. MAHCHOU, of the Arab Lawyers Association, said the Middle East peace process was actually traversing a dangerous path. The international community's efforts to establish peace in the region had so far not achieved satisfactory results. Israeli action had denied the fundamental rights of Palestinians and other Arabs. The principle of "land-for-peace" had also been neglected by Israel, which had also flatly denied resolution 242 (1967) of the Security Council on unconditional withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The security agreement reached between Israel and Palestine was in favour of the occupying Power. The continued occupation of land by Israel would not lead to any peaceful results.