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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS


15 April 2002

COMMISSION ADOPTS MEASURES ON OCCUPIED PALESTINE, DEFAMATION
OF RELIGIONS, HEARS ADDRESS BY PRIME MINISTER OF ROMANIA


Commission on Human Rights
58th session
15 April 2002
Morning

Senior Officials of Azerbaijan, UNESCO also Speak;
Indigenous Issues Discussed


The Commission on Human Rights approved by roll-call votes this morning resolutions criticizing Israeli activities in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, and opposing "defamation" of religions.

In a resolution adopted by a vote of 40 in favour and 5 opposed, with 7 abstentions, the Commission among other things strongly condemned violations by Israeli occupation authorities of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories; strongly condemned the war launched by the Israeli army against Palestinian towns and camps, which had so far resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children; strongly condemned the practice of "liquidation" or extra-judicial executions carried out by the Israeli army against Palestinians; strongly condemned the establishment of Israeli settlements; and called upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

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Action on Resolutions

In a resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/2002.L.16), adopted by a roll-call vote of 40 in favour and 5 opposed, with 7 abstentions, the Commission affirmed the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation; strongly condemned violations by Israeli occupation authorities of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; strongly condemned the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory; strongly condemned the war launched by the Israeli army against Palestinian towns and camps, which had so far resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children; strongly condemned the practice of "liquidation" or extra-judicial executions carried out by the Israeli army against Palestinians; strongly condemned the establishment of Israeli settlements and other activities, such as the construction of new settlements and expansion of existing ones, the expropriation of lands, the biased administration of water resources, and the construction of bypass roads; condemned the expropriation of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, revocation of identity cards of the citizens of East Jerusalem and the imposition of fabricated and exorbitant taxes with the aim of forcing Palestinians out of Jerusalem; condemned the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogation; strongly condemned the setting on fire of the church of the Nativity and the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque in Bethlehem and the shelling with artillery fire of the Al-Baik and Al-Kabir mosques in Nablus; strongly condemned the offensives of the Israeli army of occupation against hospitals and sick persons and the use of Palestinian citizens as human shields during Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas; strongly condemned the opening of fire by the Israeli army against ambulances and paramedical personnel and its preventing ambulances and the cars of the International Committee of the Red Cross from reaching the wounded and the dead; expressed grave concern at the deterioration of the human rights situation; expressed grave concern at the restriction of movement imposed on President Yasser Arafat; expressed concern at massive arrests against a large number of Palestinians and at the continued detention of thousands of Palestinians; called upon Israel to desist from all forms of violation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory; called upon it to withdraw in accordance with relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Commission on Human Rights; called upon it to implement the recommendations in the reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory; and requested the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of the Government of Israel.

The vote was as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, France, India, Indonesia, X Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.

Against: Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Guatemala, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

Abstentions: Burundi, Cameroon, Croatia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Uruguay,

MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE ( Canada) said her country would vote against L.16 as it did not provide a balanced assessment of the regional context. The resolution contained numerous examples of inflammatory language. The type of language contained in parts of this resolution did nothing to move towards a situation where human rights were fully respected by all sides. The singling out of one party, especially in the current circumstances, did not contribute to ongoing efforts to bring an end to the conflict nor bring the parties any closer to peace. The failure of the resolution to condemn all acts of terrorism, particularly in the context of recent suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians, was a serious oversight which rendered the resolution fundamentally unacceptable.

WALTER LEWALTER (Germany) explaining a vote before the vote, said Germany remained concerned with the serious human rights situation in the occupied territories resulting in a high number deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians. Germany reiterated the call for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and for the end of all acts of terror and incitement and for the immediate adherence to Security Council resolutions. Germany was, however, unable to support the resolution since it was extremely concerned that the text might be seen as an endorsement of violence, was unbalanced and contained no section on the human rights record of the Palestinian Authority.

JOAQUIN PEREZ-VILLANUEVA Y TOVAR (Spain) said the violent crisis in the occupied territories and the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law there would lead Spain to vote in favour of the draft resolution. Spain noted, however, that the resolution contained several terms that did not reflect reality and were not technically correct. It also regretted that the draft resolution did not contain references to the victims and suffering of the other party to the conflict.

BERNARD CLAUDE KESSEDJIAN (France), explaining a vote before the vote, said the dramatic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories justified the support of France for the resolution as amended. France could not accept the use of violence and reference to Security Council resolutions gave the necessary guidance for a procedure to create the conditions for a political process. France hoped the appeal would give new hope to the victims of this horrible situation.

ANTONIO ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala) said the primary and the principal responsibility for the human rights situation in the occupied territories lay with the Palestinian authorities. The Palestinian authorities did not have the will to accomplish their obligations. It was not right to attribute the responsibilities only to Israel, which was only acting to defend itself. The resolution had no single reference to the responsibilities of the Palestinian authorities. The resolution contained inflammatory words which would not favour negotiations. For that reason, the delegation of Guatemala would vote against L.16.

ANDREA NEGROTTO CAMBIASO (Italy) said his country shared the deep concern of the international community in the face of the images of death and destruction in the occupied territories and Israel. Italy considered it deplorable that relevant Security Council resolutions had not been complied with. No one should consider himself above international law. Italy shared several of the concerns expressed in L.16. Italy was concerned at the disturbing news regarding the Jenin Camp. However, there was no balance in the text L.16. For this reason, Italy would abstain in the vote.

AUDREY GLOVER (the United Kingdom), explaining a vote before the vote, said the United Kingdom remained concerned at the serious human rights situation in the occupied territories resulting in deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians. The United Kingdom also regretted the recent escalation of violence and reiterated its call for immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops, for a cease-fire and an end to all acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism. The United Kingdom wanted to add its voice to many of the concerns in the draft, but was unable to support it. The text included many formulations which endorsed violence, were unbalanced, made no mention of the Palestinian Authority's human rights record, and made no mention of terrorism.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said in reference to the statements by the United Kingdom and Spain that the co-sponsors of L.16 remained open to negotiations on the draft resolution. The fact that an agreement on the draft resolution was not reached did not imply a lack of effort on part of the co-sponsors.

GEORG MAUTNER-MARKHOF (Austria) explaining a vote after the vote, said Austria had voted in favour of the resolution as an expression of deep concern at the human rights situation in the area. However, Austria could not subscribe to operative paragraphs 3, 7, 13 and 14. The Secretary General had spoken about the respect for human rights on both sides.

JOHAN MOLANDER (Sweden) said his country supported the resolution without joy. The amendments had deleted elements which were directly connected with the conflict. Some paragraphs also contained some abusive language. The sponsors did not want to accept further improvements to the resolution.

SHARAT SABHARWAL (India) said his country supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as well as the right of Israel to exist within secure and recognized borders. The vote of India was an expression of its concern at the deterioration of the human rights situation. India deplored all acts of terror. Such acts could not be justified on any grounds. The greatest need of the moment was moderation, restraint and restoration of confidence between the two parties.

ALVARO MENDOCA E MOURA (Portugal), in an explanation of vote after the vote, said Portugal had supported the resolution as amended since it was concerned about the situation of escalating violence and the large-scale Israeli incursion into the Palestinian territories. Portugal's support did not imply total support for some of the formulations of the text. All acts of violence must be condemned, including suicide bombings. The killing of innocents undermined human rights and the cause of the perpetrators.

JEAN-MARIE NOIRFALISSE (Belgium) said the resolution could be seen as a call for peace which his delegation supported, despite some unfortunate wording.

TOUFIK SALLOUM (Syria) said the majority of 40 votes in favour of L.16 showed that everyone was fully aware of the seriousness of the situation in the occupied territories. Flagrant Israeli violations must be stopped. The resolution referred to the grave Israeli violations of human rights, including the continuation of assassinations, the siege imposed on Palestinian towns and villages and the fact that international organizations were prevented from providing help to the victims. Those who abstained or voted against clearly showed their awareness of violations perpetrated by Israel. Israel was still preventing international organizations from entering the territories. Syria called for the implementation of the resolution and asked that High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson be sent on a mission to the occupied territories.

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For information media - not an official record