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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

Commission on Human Rights
MORNING
HR/CN/05/19
23 March 2005

COMMISSION CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE
ON QUESTION OF VIOLATION OF HUMAN
RIGHTS IN OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES


The Commission on Human Rights this morning continued its general debate on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine.

The Representative of Palestine said he extended a hand to the Israeli neighbour in order to live side-by-side in peace, harmony and cooperation. The Representative of Israel said dramatic changes were taking place in the real world, perhaps nowhere more so than in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Israeli and Palestinian undertakings, agreed at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, as well as the renewed commitment to the
Road Map, had created a new reality of shared responsibility.

A series of national delegations and non-governmental organizations addressed the Commission, with many urging the international community to make efforts to ensure the success of the Middle East peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The majority of the speakers praised the recent positive developments affecting the peace process, but stressed the importance of the need for Israel to stop the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territories and the building of settlements.

A number of delegates also underlined that despite the positive developments in the peace process, the living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories remained extremely difficult and unchanged. Libya, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said gross violations of human rights of Palestinians included extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, land confiscation, population transfer by military force, confiscation of land, damage and destruction of agricultural land, and forced separation from families and livelihoods, among others.

Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed the European Union's continued opposition to capital punishment and called upon the Palestinian Authority to cease use of the death penalty, and to end the extrajudicial killing of Palestinians accused of cooperating with Israel.
The United States said the focus of the international community should now be on a successful Israeli disengagement from Gaza and several settlements in the West Bank, and on supporting the Palestinian Authority's political, economic, and security reform efforts. The United States strongly believed that the one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions in the Commission would undermine the credibility of the United Nations and the Commission in particular.

The following delegations also took the floor this morning: Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Egypt, Qatar, India, Russian Federation, Congo, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania South Africa, Cuba, Australia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Switzerland, League of Arab States, Norway, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and United Arab Emirates.

Also speaking were the following NGOS delivered statements : of Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, speaking on behalf of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and World Organisation against Torture; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, speaking on behalf of Arab Lawyers Union; United Nations Watch; International Commission of Jurists; Franciscans International and B'nai Brith International, speaking on behalf of Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations.

When the Committee concluded its morning meeting at noon, it immediately started a midday meeting which will last until 3 p.m. during which it is expected to conclude its general debate on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, and to start the general debate on the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, including the question of the human rights in Cyprus.

Statements


MASOOD KHAN (
Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the situation in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories remained a matter of deep interest as well as concern for the Islamic countries. The OIC was committed to the objective of the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation through the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland, the restoration of the dignity and security of the Palestinian people and the rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure and property in occupied Palestine.

The Middle East peace process should not be further delayed. The time was ripe for steering it towards a decisive phase. The Palestinians' struggle for their right to self-determination was at a defining moment of history. The Sharm al Sheikh agreement should help revive the process and put the Quartet's Roadmap back on track, but this would depend on a radical change in Israel's negotiating conduct and an alteration of ground realities, including reversal of the Israeli decision to build new settlements around Jerusalem. No political process could be sustained in an environment of repression and coercion. The story of the violation of human rights in Palestine was long and painful. The international community should act to redress the human rights situation in Palestine. Durable peace in the Middle East was inextricably linked to a just solution of the Palestine issue through realisation of the right to self-determination. The Commission should play an effective role to ensure the realisation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people and to address the grave violations of their human rights. All members should vote for the resolutions being tabled on Palestine.

NAJAT AL-HAJJAJI (
Libya), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, had made it clear that the occupation constituted a gross violation of human rights. Those violations would not cease until the occupation was brought to an end. Israel continued to disregard the Commission's resolutions, as well as those of the Security Council and the General Assembly, which called upon that Government to cease practices in violation of international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as various other international human rights instruments. In addition to violations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, land confiscation, and population transfer by military force, the building of the wall constituted a violation of human rights through the confiscation of land, and damage and destruction of agricultural land, forced separation from families and livelihoods, which posed significant social, cultural, educational, health and psychological dangers. Moreover, the construction of the wall was against the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and stood in contradiction of international law. The wall constituted a barrier to establishment of an independent State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Torture continued to be applied to Palestinian detainees during questioning, she said, and arbitrary detention continued to be used. As noted by the Special Rapporteur, more than 7,000 Palestinians continued to be detained. Only 1,500 had been brought to trial, and a large number had said they had been subjected to torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment. While welcoming recent positive developments, it was felt that they did not constitute any concrete change in the
status quo. The Commission must fulfil its responsibility to help put an end to the continued Israeli occupation of the occupied territories, cease construction of the wall, dismantle settlements and ensure Israel's respect of international resolutions. She also noted that, in the Golan Heights, Israel had implemented discriminatory and restrictive practices against the Syrian residents in an attempt to force them to leave their land and homes.

NAELA GABR (
Egypt) said the enjoyment of people of their human rights without discrimination, even in occupation, should be respected. In accordance to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard, the situation in which the Palestinians were living was of great concern. Israel had continued its repressive practices against the Palestinian people without due respect to the relevant Geneva Convention on the rights of people under occupation. The Palestinian people were subject to myriad adverse actions by the Israeli authorities. The various checkpoints established by the occupying power had reduced the right to freedom of movement of the Palestinian people. The construction of the wall of separation by Israel in the occupying Palestinian territory was yet another violation of the international and humanitarian laws. The wall had affected movement of thousands of Palestinians and had created difficulties to carry out their daily activities. In addition, the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory contravened international norms.

The Sharm el-Sheik Summit between the leaders of Israel and Palestine had been an encouraging sign for the continuation of the peace process. The two parties should abide by the commitments reached during the Summit. The restarting of the peace process was the only way out to establish peace and security in the region. It was also a means to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.

JASSIM ABDULAZIZ FAISAL AL-BOAINAIN (
Qatar) said Qatar had read the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard, and had noted the reference to the Israeli violations in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine. Qatar was very worried about these continuing violations, which included the continued construction of settlements, the destruction of homes, and attacks on health and education institutions among others. The construction of the so-called separation wall was continuing, despite the judgement of the International Court of Justice. Qatar had always encouraged negotiations, and it was up to Israel to take more steps to show its good intentions, including offering land for peace and halting the construction of the wall and settlements. Israel also had to put an end to all the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people in order to achieve peace.

The international community and the Commission on Human Rights had to intervene to ensure the implementation of the legitimate international resolutions. Refugees had to be allowed to return to their homes, and the Palestinian people should be allowed to achieve their economic, social and cultural rights and have their own State with Jerusalem as its capital.

ALPHONSE BERNS (
Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the European Union expected that the new political climate in the Middle East would contribute to the improvement of the human rights situation. Although both Israel and the Palestinian Authority had undertaken a commitment to respect human rights, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories continued to be characterized by human rights violations in the past year. The overwhelming majority of victims killed since September 2000 had been civilians, and the number of children killed on both sides was particularly overwhelming. The European Union remained particularly concerned by human rights violations against children, and felt the Special Rapporteur should give particular attention to their situation. Although the European Union recognized the right of Israel to protect its citizens against terrorist attacks, Israel must do so with respect for international human rights law. Reiterating firm and unequivocal condemnation of all forms of terrorism, he also urged the Palestinian Authority to take all possible actions against those perpetrating such acts.

Welcoming the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement to cease all acts of violence, and all military action, he urged both parties to implement those agreements quickly. He also stressed that, like Israel, the members of the European Union were parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians in times of war. The Convention's terms must be respected by Israel, which should freeze and dismantle settlements and end the
de facto confiscation of land caused by construction of the separation wall. Regarding the situation of women in the occupied territories, the European Union reiterated that they remained particularly vulnerable to the occupation, and reaffirmed the Special Rapporteur's call for the Palestinian Authority to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of violence against women. The Palestinian Authority must promote equality between the sexes, as well as the political participation of women.

Also stressing its continued opposition to capital punishment, the European Union called upon the Palestinian Authority to cease use of the death penalty, and to end the extrajudicial killing of Palestinians accused of cooperating with Israel. Israel's decision to cease extrajudicial killings of Palestinians was welcomed. Furthermore, aside from the consequences of its construction in terms of limitations on the freedom of movement, the European Union remained concerned by the route of the separation barrier, which could prejudge a final solution. He also reaffirmed commitment to the Road Map to peace, and stressed that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace must reflect the legitimate aspirations of both peoples, and include resolution of the situations with Lebanon and Syria.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (
India) said the Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh on 8 February 2005 and the significant meeting between the leaders of Israel and Palestine deserved the support of the international community. It was hoped that the negotiations should lead to the realization of the inalienable and legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and a homeland and to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. In recent years, India had extended its full support to the vision continued in the Security Council resolution 1397. It had also endorsed resolutions 1402 and 1403, which called on both sides to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire, and for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah. India also supported the peace initiatives of the international community, including the endorsement by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 of the Quartet Roadmap and the call to restart negotiations. India had remained steadfastly committed to the cause of the Palestinian people. During the last decade of the Middle East peace process, India had executed a number of projects and programmes worth several million dollars, aimed at capacity building and institutional support in the occupied territories.

The tragic developments in the Middle East were a cause of widespread international concern. The world had watched the incidents of violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and other parts of the Palestinian territories and Israel with growing consternation. Innocent men, women and children continued to bear the brunt of untold suffering. Those events also adversely affected regional stability. The full promotion and protection of human rights required a secure environment and the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace. All sides should end violence.

PAVEL CHERNIKOV (
Russian Federation) said overcoming the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation and moving the conflict towards a political settlement remained a priority task for all interested parties and partners, including Russia, which would continue its consistent efforts to achieve a settlement in the Middle East which would ensure peaceful and stable co-existence between the States and stability for all countries in the region. This would only be found at the negotiating table and not through force. There was a need to strengthen the impetus to cease armed confrontation and return to the negotiations. The Palestinian Authority would have to continue reforms and make a determined effort to prevent all manifestations of terror.

Particular importance was given to the fact that none of the parties should undertake unilateral activities. There was concern for such sensitive issues as the route of the separation wall and Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank. It was also clear that the condition of the Palestinian economy could not improve without removal of the limitations of the movements of persons. At this stage, of particular importance was the strict compliance of all parties to their commitments made at Sharm al Sheikh and mutual efforts to strengthen mutual trust. This would create an appropriate atmosphere for reaching the goals of the Roadmap, including a sovereign Palestinian State. The Peace Plan, the Roadmap, had acquired an international legal status. There was a growing role of the Quartet of international mediators, and it was under their auspices that a bridge should be built to the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, and the implementation of all other provisions of the Roadmap. The Peace Process should be strengthened by including Lebanon and Syria, and it should lead to a comprehensive and lasting settlement in the Middle East on the basis of the United Nations resolutions. Resolving this problem could lead to a fundamental change for the better in the human rights situation in the region.

ROGER JULIEN MENGA (
Congo) said that over the last few months, the situation with respect to international humanitarian law and human rights had improved in the occupied Palestinian territories, as illustrated by the ceasefire, as well as by d├ętente measures such as the release of 500 Palestinians and the transfer of five West Bank cities to the Palestinian Authority. The Congo remained aware that a long and difficult road lay ahead, but hoped that the recent agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would extend to a long-term engagement.

Also stressing that the Roadmap deserved to be reconsidered, as it envisaged a lasting solution to the situation, he called for elaboration of a final and comprehensive solution as promptly as possible on that basis. He also welcomed the holding of the recent London meeting, and hoped that it would lead to the international conference, required under the Roadmap, to revive negotiations on the final status. The international community, and the Commission on Human Rights, should support endeavours to achieve peace. A negotiated settlement would surely lead to the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side-by-side with Israel and other neighbouring States, in peace and security.

SHA ZUKANG (
China) said the issue of the Middle East and Palestine had long been a major concern of the international community. For many years, the bloody conflict between Palestine and Israel had caused untold human suffering, material losses as well as deep psychological wounds to the two peoples and had created serious difficulties for the peace process. The never-ending deadlock of the Middle East issue not only endangered peace and stability in the region, but also threatened the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of the region. Fortunately, in recent months, some positive trends had emerged in the Middle East. Leaders for the two sides had demonstrated statesmen's courage and had opted decisively for a ceasefire and the resumption of talks, and hence visible progress had been registered in Palestinian-Israeli relations. The international community had also intensified its peace efforts, and the Middle East peace process had thus entered a new phase. China sincerely hoped that the two sides would seize the momentum and persevere in their peace effort, not allowing individual cases of violence to derail such effort, so as to make new progress in the Middle East peace process.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, China had all along supported the Middle East peace process and had made unremitting efforts to help defuse tensions in the region and promote the constant progress of peace in the region. Near the end of last year, the Chinese representative visited Palestine and Israel and had put forward China's four-point proposal on the Middle East issue. China also attended the London Conference in support of the Palestinian National Authorities. China maintained that all the parties concerned should make joint efforts to build mutual confidence and resume the peace talks; the Roadmap should be restarted, and the Palestinian State should be established; and a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East should be actively pursued, among other things.

EDDI HARIYADHI (
Indonesia) said there were still many violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories which continued to destroy the fabric of Palestinian society. This evidently stemmed, to a great measure, from Israel's failure to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and in particular the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice which had held that Israel was under an obligation to stop the construction of the wall and dismantle it forthwith. The wall was a perpetual source of undue hardship for the Palestinians who found themselves still subject to curfews and other restrictions that impinged on their human rights. Both the wall and the settlements were illegal, and for future peace, Israel should dismantle them and allow Palestinians to regain the access they had been denied to education, health care, and employment.

It was not sufficient for Israel to cease its military activity against Palestinians, they should redress the loss and damage suffered by the latter, and should not be allowed to continue to confiscate Palestinian land or to expand their illegal settlements. It was sincerely hoped that the Sharm el Sheikh accord would be a definitive step towards lasting peace in this region that had been troubled for almost four decades. All parties should be congratulated on the truce that had been reached, and it was hoped that this time it would lead to, among others, a truly permanent and unconditional withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Finally, all stakeholders were urged to continue to work towards a just and comprehensive agreement. It was hoped that by working within the framework of international humanitarian law, peace in the Middle East would finally be attained.

SHIM PAW FATT (
Malaysia) said that, as the current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, Malaysia felt compelled to add its voice to concern expressed over continuing violations of the human rights of the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. In spite of some encouraging developments, and as the Special Rapporteur had pointed out, these had failed to address the main violations of human rights and humanitarian law on the ground, including the settlements, construction of the wall, checkpoints, roadblocks, imprisonment of Gaza, and continued detention of more than 7,000 Palestinians. These violations resulted from illegal Israeli policies and practices, which had continued despite repeated denunciations in the Commission on Human Rights and other United Nations fora, despite Israel's obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.

Violations of Palestinians' human rights had existed for too long, he stressed. They constituted the main cause of instability in the Middle East. Israel must fulfil its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and respect the opinion of the International Court of Justice. The key to peace lay in implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and realization of the two-State solution, which would ensure the creation of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine, as well as the existence of Israel, living side-by-side in peace and security, within secure and recognized borders, as envisaged by the Roadmap. All parties must seize upon the current, critical window of opportunity to renew momentum in the peace process by honouring their respective commitments and refraining from actions detrimental to full implementation of the Road Map.

ABDULWAHAB A. ATTAR (
Saudi Arabia) said although the Palestinians had so far made tireless endeavours to achieve a truce, Israel's response to all the positive steps taken by the Palestinian people had been extremely limited. The issues of the wall, the settlements and the imposition of blockades had not been resolved and there were no indications that those policies would be relaxed. On the contrary, there was every indication that those policies would be continued and expanded in defiance of the United Nations resolutions, including the resolutions of the Commission. Israel should promptly cease its practice of imposing blockades and closures, as well as its settlement policy and its construction of the separation wall, all of which violated United Nations resolutions and the rights of the Palestinian people. Israel should immediately abandon its dangerous schemes to alter the character of the city of Jerusalem and severe the city's links with its West Bank environment through the separation wall and the ongoing frantic expansion of settlements within its confines.

Israeli practices and violations were not aimed solely at the Palestinian people. On the contrary, the population of southern Lebanon and the occupied Syrian Golan were also being subjected to inhuman practices and violations of their rights. The Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan since 1967 constituted a violation of human rights and a challenge to United Nations resolutions and international law. The right of the Syrian people to recover the occupied Syrian Golan should be emphasized.

MOHAMED SALECK OULD MOHAMED LEMINE (
Mauritania) said the report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories reminded the international community of the suffering of the Palestinian people and the need to put an end to this suffering. The requirements in this area had been clearly outlined by the International Court of Justice. The General Assembly had urged Israel to comply with that judgement. Israel had to respect the rights of the Palestinian people, and implement the required conditions to encourage peace and security in the Middle East. The complete withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories was required, as infringements on the human rights of Palestinians in the territories were the result of the occupation, and would only end with it.

The desire manifested by both parties to return to the negotiating table and achieve peace was applauded. This should be done under the auspices of the Quartet and in the context of the Roadmap. Arab leaders had reiterated their peace offer and shown their commitment to a just ending to the conflict, and the international community should support this by making a greater effort to achieve peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions which stipulated that Israel should withdraw completely from the occupied Palestinian territories and supported the Palestinian people's will to set up their capital in Jerusalem.

CLAUDINE MTSHALI (
South Africa) said South Africa supported the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and reiterated support for their right to a homeland based on the two-State solution. Unfortunately, the status quo in the Middle East remained antithetical to the two-State principle. Israeli domination and occupation of Palestinian territory served not just to deny the Palestinians their right to self-determination, but also to deny their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Israel's refusal to abide by Security Council, General Assembly, and Commission on Human Rights resolutions was unacceptable. Similarly, the subjugation and repression daily visited upon the Palestinian people, and which took the form of land confiscation, demolitions of houses, uprooting of trees, curfews, checkpoints and the continued construction of the wall in the West Bank, were also unacceptable.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People had met only a few weeks ago, she recalled, to review the question of Palestine, especially relating the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on construction of the wall. The Committee had called on the international community to renew its commitment to see Israel abide by the advisory opinion. That position was welcomed as being in line with the fostering of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Peace in the Middle East could only be achieved through negotiations, while only a political solution to the conflict could guarantee a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region. It was to be hoped that the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting would unlock the current stalemate and create a favourable environment for the full implementation of the Road Map.

RUDY BOSCHWITZ (
United States) said the United States and its Quartet partners were committed to advancing progress towards the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The focus now of the international community should be on a successful Israeli disengagement from Gaza and several settlements in the West Bank, and on supporting the Palestinian Authority's political, economic, and security reform efforts. In working toward peace, the Commission should not choose the moment to single out one group for censure. The United States strongly believed that the one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions would undermine the credibility of the United Nations and the Commission in particular. The resolutions, introduced under agenda item 8, focused entirely on castigating one country and served only to perpetuate acrimony, instead of advancing a peace process that was underway and making progress. A balanced approach would take into account other important issues in the Middle East.

More than ever before, there were hopeful signs of change in the Middle East. The emergence of a newly elected Palestinian leadership committed to reform, continued responsiveness by Israel on its disengagement plan, and reviewed dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States asked the Commission to lower the decibel level of the item 8 debate.

JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (
Cuba) said the cause of the Palestinian people stood out among those which had aroused the most solidarity and sympathies in the whole world. The international community had been unequivocal in recognising the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, the rejection of the illegal occupation of Arab territories by Israel, and condemnation of mass and flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the occupying power. However, Israel and the United States of America ignored the will of the international community and blocked the United Nations actions. The violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people was the most flagrant, massive and systematic violation committed on the planet. The most recent report by the Special Rapporteur provided once again detailed information on Israeli acts in the occupied territories.

The construction of the racist wall being built by the Israeli regime around the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as the expansion and illegal increase in settlements were the most recent and deliberate attempts by Israel to plunder and annex Palestinian lands, block any negotiation and render even more difficult and unbearable the life of an oppressed and humiliated people. The wall was responsible for most of the suffering. The International Court of Justice had stated that Israel had the obligation to stop its construction and bring it down immediately. Israel had not complied, on the contrary, it continued to bring the wall. Cuba, which for over 45 years had endured a tightened and genocidal blockade by the United States of America, was firmly convinced that no wall, or fence, or the most violent and ruthless atrocities would be able to break the resilience and longing for freedom of the Palestinian people.

GEOFF SHAW (
Australia) said Australia opposed the maintenance of the present agenda item (8), which allowed for unbalanced criticism of Israel. Singling out one country for unique criticism was anomalous given the existence of another item under which the situation should be considered. Notwithstanding that position, Australia welcomed the progress witnessed recently with regard to the Middle East peace process, including the Palestinian Authority's commitment to stop acts of terror and incitement to further bloodshed. Australia upheld Israel's right to defend itself, and said the Palestinian Authority must stamp out terror. He also welcomed the Israeli decision to withdraw from Jericho, and the commitment further to withdraw from Gaza and other parts of the West Bank. All steps taken must be consistent with the Roadmap.

OMER DAHAB MOHAMED (
Sudan) said the noble objectives of Yasser Arafat to liberate the Palestinians and to establish a sovereign State were now being pursued by President Mahmoud Abbas. In order to establish peace and stability in the Middle East, Israel should free all Palestinian prisoners it was holding in its various prisons. It should also stop the repressive and inhumane activities it was carrying out against the Palestinians in the occupied territories. The occupation of the Syrian Golan was also a blatant act against international norms. Israel had not heeded the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice with regard to the wall of separation.

The barbaric acts, extrajudical killings, torture and demolition of houses were acts which amounted to acts of genocide. This was not the time to appease by the international community. Every effort should be made to allow Palestinians to recover their land and start living a peaceful life. The Palestinians should be able to establish their State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA (
Zimbabwe) said the plight of the Palestinians had been before the world for so long that one was tempted to conclude that their lot was one of suffering in perpetuity. However, it should not be accepted as a fait accompli. The opportunities offered by the new tide for peace in the Middle East should be seized, and this despite the situation there as demonstrated by the Special Rapporteur. President Abbas deserved the support of the international community to negotiate a lasting peace and permanent borders with the State of Israel. Palestinians should soon realise their inalienable right to full statehood and all that that entailed. The so-called security wall had brought untold misery to the daily lives of the people of Palestine.

It was hoped and expected that Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and the manipulation of access into and exit from East Jerusalem would be stopped, so that Palestinians were not further inconvenienced and their future was not further compromised. The stance of those who called for non-interference in certain countries' affairs whilst creating thereby opportunities for themselves to similarly meddle in the Arab countries' affairs was deplored. The people of the region should be left alone to forge their own internal political alignments and to express their sovereign right to build international alliances as they desired.

SEYED MOHAMMAD KAZEM SAJJADPOUR (
Iran) said that although the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories had often been on the agenda of the Commission on Human Rights, the numerous resolutions and decision adopted by it had been ignored by Israel. The past year had witnessed the worst violence in the occupied Palestinian territories since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000. Successive incursions by the Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza had resulted in heavy loss of life and personal injury, and in the wanton and large-scale destruction of homes. Furthermore, systematic violations of human rights and breaches of international law and international humanitarian law had continued. Israel had persisted in unlawful policies and practices leading to the killing and wounding of Palestinian people and the further devastation of Palestinian cities, communities, infrastructure, and civilian properties. Its increased military presence in the Gaza Strip, and indiscriminate use of force, practices of collective punishment, extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations and expansion of the settlements prevented the Palestinian people from fully enjoying their human rights.

The continued construction of the wall, even in the wake of the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion, constituted an act of disrespect to international law and to the will of the international community, he said. The assassination of Palestinians by Israel had also been intensified; since October 2000, the Israeli army had killed many Palestinians, including children, women and innocent bystanders. Hundreds of Palestinians had been subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment by the Israeli Security Services. The fundamental cause of the grave and systematic human rights violations, which prevailed in occupied Palestine, remained the occupation itself, and the denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. The Commission on Human Rights should take more effective measures to bring the crimes of the Israeli forces to the attention of the international community, and to provide much needed protection to the defenseless people of Palestine.

SADIQ M.S. MARAFI (
Kuwait) said the occupying Israeli power had continued to perpetrate human rights violations against the Palestinians people, as witnessed by the report of the Special Rapporteur. The international community was aspiring that a state of comprehensive and stable peace and security could be established in the Middle East. The relevant United Nations resolution had invited Israel to free all prisoners it detained and to clarify the conditions of those disappeared Palestinians. Israel was also requested to respect the human rights of the Palestinians under its occupation.

The Palestinians should enjoy their legitimate rights and be free from any occupation. The occupying power should be urged to abide by all international laws and most particularly by the relevant Security Council resolutions aimed at ending the conflicts and the occupation. The international community should strongly urge Israel to abide by international norms and United Nations resolutions, and end its occupation and allow the Palestinians to create their State with East Jerusalem as their capital. Israel should also stop making fun of the international law

MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (
Palestine) said Palestine wished to express its gratitude to all the distinguished delegates and the international community for the aid extended to help ensure the national rights of the Palestinian people, and it extended a hand to the Israeli neighbour in order to live side-by-side in peace, harmony and cooperation.

AMEEN AL-MAQTARY (
Yemen) said he wished to express solidarity with the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, who had been struggling for more than half a century to achieve their legitimate rights. The Palestinian people had given much to attain their desired liberation. Moreover, all national and international efforts to settle the question of Palestine were supported, as far back as the Madrid Conference. Yemen condemned all illegal Israeli practices, including the use of excessive military force to invade Palestinian territories and the continued construction of the separation wall. The Israeli occupation of the occupied territories, and its practices of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions, must be brought to an end. There must a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to this question.

AHMED MOHAMED MASOUD AL-RIYAMI (
Oman) said the Commission had repeatedly called on Israel to abide by international norms and to implement the resolutions of the Commission and the United Nations. However, Israel had turned its back on all calls of the international community, including those of the Commission and the Security Council. It was evident that the only way towards peace and security was through negotiations. Israel had to withdraw all its forces from the territories and stop its settlement programmes as a sign of its willingness to embark on a serious peace process. Palestinians had the right to live in peace and security. The building of the wall of separation had been a violation of international law; and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice had confirmed this.

Oman had expressed its satisfaction at the outcome of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. The international community should provide assistance to the Palestinians to build their nation. Palestinians should have their State with East Jerusalem as their Capital. Israel should also end its practices, which had badly affected the people of Palestinians since 1967.

JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY (
Switzerland) said since the Sharm El Sheikh summit, several encouraging developments had been observed. The most encouraging signs, in terms of the peace process, lay in the resumption of the dialogue between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority and in the truce agreed by the Palestinian factions in Cairo with the aim of putting an end to violence. This recent tendency, although still fragile, contrasted significantly with the multiple violations observed during the previous year. The Israeli decision to proceed to a coordinated withdrawal from the Gaza Strip opened new perspectives. The international community had as a goal the realisation of the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The respective obligations of the two parties as elaborated in the Roadmap needed to be implemented simultaneously.

The international community, justly mobilised in order to ensure the success of the disengagement and the restart of the political process, should give particular attention to the developments taking place in Israel, including in East Jerusalem. The building of the separation barrier, despite the recent modifications to its path, continued to be in contradiction of international law. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories did not have any chance of improving if the true causes of the economic and social degradation and the humanitarian crisis were not treated. Respect for international law was an essential means in order to re-establish trust and the conditions necessary for the emergence of a global and negotiated solution to the conflict.

SAAD ALFARARGI, of
League of Arab States, said the human rights situation in Palestine, the Syrian Golan, and the Shaaba region of southern Lebanon had not reflected any improvement in the past year, as emphasized in the report of the Special Rapporteur. The Special Rapporteur had concluded that the Fourth Geneva Convention was not being upheld. It had been seen that Israel had committed war crimes, and the Commission on Human Rights must look into that situation. Noting that Israel had decided to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, he said that area had been turned into a large prison. Moreover, Israel also continued to construct the wall, and its many settlements had been created to put an end to what remained of the Palestinian territory. Israeli actions also betrayed a desire to lay hands on East Jerusalem. It was to be hoped that the Commission would take a clear position in regard of these violations in Gaza, the West Bank, and other areas.

WEGER STROMMEN (
Norway) said that although the political climate had improved, there were few visible signs on the ground. There were daily incidents in the occupied territories which did not make the headlines. The number of causalities had decreased, but the psychological scars ran just as deep. Checkpoints, closures and settlers provided constant reminder of occupation and humiliation. The security barrier dived neighbourhoods and families, separated children from their schools and prevented farmers from working on their land. Large-scale harassment of civilians continued. The current state of lawlessness experienced by Palestinians in the occupied territories was unacceptable.

A peaceful settlement of the conflict could only be found if the fundamental rights of both Palestinians and Israelis were respected. Palestinians had the right to demand an end to the occupation. They had the right to demand the establishment of an independent and democratic State. Israelis had the same right to live in peace and security with internationally recognized borders.

SAEED MOHAMED AL-FAIHANI (
Bahrain) said the report of the Special Rapporteur drew a gloomy picture for the situation of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories. The continuation of the living conditions in Palestine despite the recent positive developments would not make the desired peace possible. On the contrary, it would strengthen violence and extremist phenomena in the society which lacked the basic standards of human rights. Actually, the desired peace would not be achieved unless the rights of the Palestinian people were respected by the Israeli occupation authorities. The Israelis should promote the rights of the Palestinian people through halting the inhuman practices which the Special Rapporteur mentioned, and through the immediate withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, and enabling the Palestinian people to establish their own independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Commission had the responsibility to deplore the practices which the Palestinian people were subjected to. It had the duty to take the necessary measures to stop such practices and guarantee that the occupation authorities would respect the rights of the Palestinian people. The flexibility, wisdom, responsible attitude and the positive reactions of the Palestinian people and the leadership were commended, and it was hoped that the chance would continue to revive the negotiations of the peace process.

BASHAR JAAFARI (
Syria) recalled that on 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice had issued its advisory opinion confirming that the wall being built by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories stood in contradiction to international law and international humanitarian law. Israel was bound to cease its construction, and to dismantle what had already been built. The Court had also found that the Fourth Geneva Convention was applicable to the situation, and that Israeli settlements violated international law. Yet Israel had disregarded these findings; just a few days ago, the Prime Minister had given the green light to building further housing on one settlement, which he had said would never be given back to the Palestinian Authority. Despite Israel's denial that it did not intend to impose a final border unilaterally, the State's actions on the ground showed that the Government was procrastinating, and that its intention was effectively and practically to deny the Palestinians a viable State, and to annex East Jerusalem. Only last Friday, Israel's Representative at the Commission had called upon the international community to observe Israel's right to self-determination, as if it was not Israel imposing the occupation. That Representative should read the report of the Special Rapporteur.

The record of Israeli practices in the Syrian Golan did not much differ, he said. Construction of the first settlements had begun only two months after the occupation. Israel had exiled Syrian citizens from their villages and homeland, and, not being satisfied with these steps, had announced the annexation of the Syrian Golan. That step had led the United Nations to proclaim that all efforts to change the demographic situation of the Golan were null and void. The Security Council had confirmed the non-permissibility of acquisition of land by force, which applied to the Syrian Golan. The Arab side's commitment to a peaceful solution had been confirmed by the 2002 Arab peace initiative, and by yesterday's Arab League meeting, but Israel seemed to be determined on war and the continued occupation by force of the occupied territories.

MOUSA BURAYZAT (
Jordan) said the Special Rapporteur had drawn a very bleak picture of the situation in the Middle East. Israel had used its awesome and superior military might against the Palestinians in a brutal fashion. Further, his objective reports put Israeli practices in legal and political context; thus revealing, the ultimate objectives of the occupying power for using indiscriminate and excessive force against Palestinian targets. Such objectives included "incorporating large number of Israeli settlers into Israel without evacuating most settlements in the West Bank, annexing the largest possible areas of Palestinian territory, and forcing Palestinians to flee their homeland by making life for them intolerable and unbearable".

Challenging that grim picture were the undersigns reached at Sharm el-Sheikh, which one hoped had opened a new page in the Palestinian-Israeli strife. One wanted to be optimistic and was encouraged by initial moves taken by the parties. The two sides had resumed security cooperation. Israel had begun evacuating Palestinian cities and displayed, though momentarily, self-restraint. The Commission should send a clear message to Israel by stating that the international community was expecting it to resist the temptation of power and expansion and to draw the right lesson from the past.

OMAR HILALE (
Morocco) said the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories continued to cause grave concern for the international community due to the particularly disastrous effects of the conflict on the Palestinian people, notably women and children. The construction of the separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territories imposed living conditions that were extremely grave and caused negative influence on the enjoyment of human rights, notably the access to healthcare, education, the right to food and the freedom of movement. The General Assembly had asked for the full halt of all activities related to the wall and also those relative to the implantation of settlement colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.

Morocco exhorted the influential powers as well as the United Nations to take full advantage of the new situation, which gave hope and optimism for the peaceful and permanent resolution of a conflict that was dominated by a logic of violence and counter-violence and which had sadly closed the mouth of dialogue, comprehension and wisdom for many years. Morocco was engaged with the international community to hunt for a just and durable solution to the conflict and to guarantee the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories and to establish a Palestinian State that was independent and viable with Jerusalem as the capital, and living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security.

ITZHAK LEVANON (
Israel) said that dramatic changes were taking place in the real world, perhaps nowhere more so than in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Israelis and Palestinians had sat down to coordinate the transfer of more West Bank cities to Palestinian control, and the Palestinian leadership had taken its first steps in the long battle to confront terrorism, while Israel had prepared to evacuate all Israelis from the Gaza Strip. These undertakings, agreed at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, as well as the renewed commitment to the Roadmap, had created a new reality of shared responsibility.

However, within the Commission, little had changed, he stressed. It was little wonder that the Commission's credibility on issues related to Israel and the Middle East stood at an all-time low, and that the Secretary-General had reiterated the damning criticism of the High-level Panel in speaking of the Commission's "credibility deficit". There was no clearer example of that credibility deficit than the present agenda item. The situation in every country in the world, except Israel, was treated under agenda item 9, while one country was singled out with a unique agenda item. Moreover, the Special Rapporteur had been appointed to examine one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but not the other. The deficit was also strikingly represented by the resolutions submitted under this, and other, items; in them, the Palestinians had only rights, the Israelis only obligations. Moreover, no mention was made of suicide bombers, which had made it necessary for Israel to construct its security fence, nor of the terrorist groups who sent children and pregnant women to smuggle arms and bombs, which made checkpoints necessary.

SAMIR LABIDI (
Tunisia) commended the recent positive developments in the Middle East and hoped they would contribute to the peace process. As it was indicated in the Special Rapporteur's report, the violation of the human rights of Palestinians had continued. The construction of the wall, the blockade and the restriction of the right to movement had exacerbated the life of the Palestinians. Even pregnant women could not be rushed to nearby clinics due to checkpoints and the blockade put in place by the Israeli forces. The International Court of Justice had given its advisory opinion that the construction of the wall violated international law and that the Geneva Convention was applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory.

A viable peace and security could only be established in the region through the implementation of the various international norms and the United Nations resolutions be Israel. Tunisia continued to be concerned by the Israeli practices that affected the Palestinian people, who had been suffering from the occupation since 1967.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (
Algeria) said the tragedy of the martyred Palestinian people had been taking place daily since the last century. The inability of the international community to put an end to it authorised the occupying power to commit acts and practices that were condemned by law and that morality rejected. But the occupying power acted in full impunity, encouraged by the silence of some and the complicity of others, interpreting these signals as an approval for its policies. The oppressive and humiliating acts in the occupied Palestinian territories were the acts of an administration that had almost completely ignored the United Nations resolutions. All countries without exception could give accounts at the Commission regarding human rights, even if it was an aggressor who claimed to be the aggressed. Any indulgence by the Commission with regard to the practices having effect on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories would strike a blow at the credibility of the institution.

The massive and unjustified demolitions of goods and houses, the construction of settlement colonies, the building of the separation wall that was continuing despite being declared contrary to international law by the International Court of Justice, all showed the precarious situation in which the Palestinian people were living. The recent announcements of the resumption of the peace process would, it was hoped, signal an advance in the promotion of the human rights of an ignored, humiliated and slowly-killed people; but it would be judged upon results, and a new failure would only increase the resentment and feed the extremists.

ABDEL ESSA AL MAHRI (
United Arab Emirates) said he wished to draw attention to the deplorable violations of human rights in the occupied territories, particularly in Palestine. As noted by the Special Rapporteur, serious human rights violations, including assassination and murder of civilians and destruction of homes, continued. These could be considered war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Moreover, Israel's settlement policy remained contrary to international law. Despite numerous resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights, Security Council and General Assembly, Israel continued to defy the international community in failing to comply with them. Israel had also ignored the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and had continued to build the wall and to construct settlements. The international community bore extensive responsibility to urge Israel to comply with international law. Peace was a strategic objective adopted by the Arab countries at Beirut in 2002.

ANNE MASSAGEE, of
Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, speaking on behalf of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and World Organisation against Torture, said reality on the ground in the Middle East showed that principles of international law were being compromised during efforts to find a political solution through negotiations. Since January 2005, Israeli authorities had continued to unjustifiably detain Palestinians, demolish their homes on the basis of administrative law, deny their families the right to live together, impose numerous forms of collective punishment, and they kept in place the devastating system of checkpoints and other movement restrictions. The group was concerned that while political discussions were ongoing, Israel was confiscating Palestinian lands, continued the construction of the wall of annexation, and expanding the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

HANAN SHARAFEDDIN, of
International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, speaking on behalf of Arab Lawyers Union, said it was not violence or terrorism that created occupation, it was the occupation which produced violence and terrorism. Nor was it the Israelis who needed a partner for peace, it was the Palestinians who needed such a partner. The Palestinian people suffered war crimes and the most serious human rights violations as a result of a systematic State policy of Israel on every Palestinian territory. The Arabs and the Palestinians had accepted the decisions of the international community, offered peace in their summits, a peace based on international legality and international law principles. Their good faith had always been faced by more Israeli aggressions. The Palestinian people today were vulnerable more than ever and needed help. All should work together to help them recover their most basic and legitimate rights.

HILLEL C. NEUER, of
United Nations Watch, delivering a joint statement, said that freedom's ring had echoed from the cedar mountains of Lebanon, inspiring the world with faith that Lebanon's day of glory as a beacon of liberty in the Arab world could once again become reality. It had inspired a moment of unprecedented international unity, with the nations of the world joining to tell Syria to put an end to its 30-year occupation, to respect international law, and to implement Security Council resolution 1559. Today, those who stood for freedom in Lebanon were empowered by the knowledge that they were not alone -- the whole world stood with them. Lebanese freedom under resolution 1559 required not just Syria's withdrawal, but also required the Government of Iran to withdraw its Revolutionary Guards, who had illegally occupied Lebanon and had units operating openly in the Bekaa Valley and along the southern border. It also required the disarming of Hezbollah, which stood for foreign occupation and could not be accepted as a political party while it possessed 12,000 missiles.

IAN SEIDERMAN, of
International Commission of Jurists, said Israel had continued to undertake sweeping measures in the name of national security which carried dire consequences for the human rights of Palestinians. Those practices, which had been denounced by the Special Rapporteur and other human rights bodies, included enactment of the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, excessive use of force, indiscriminate killing of civilians, demolition of houses and the continuing construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinians territory.

LOUIS BOTHE, of
Franciscans International, said the main causes for the construction of the wall were to incorporate settlers within Israel; to seize Palestinian land; and to encourage an exodus of Palestinians by denying them the access to their land and water resources and by restricting their freedom of movement. Blocking the perspective of a dignified future created violence. The Israeli Government should honour the opinion of the International Court of Justice by dismantling the wall and compensating Palestinians for the losses caused, fully respecting and implementing the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose residence, evacuating all settlements in Palestinian territory, and cooperating fully with the Special Rapporteur and other thematic procedures as a concrete way of showing the Government's commitment to internationally recognised human rights standards.

DAN MARIASHIN, of
B'nai B'rith International, speaking on behalf of Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, said that the Commission on Human Rights continued to undermine progress toward peace by accepting biased, one-side reports. Israeli-Palestinian agreements provided that the most difficult issues -- including borders, security, settlements, Jerusalem and refugees -- would be addressed as final status issues, which would allow earlier incremental steps to build confidence in both the process and each other, thus building an atmosphere of trust. The international community had joined together to facilitate movement towards peace through the Roadmap and, as a member of the Quartet, the United Nations must uphold previous agreements and encourage direct negotiations for peace. Unfortunately, the Special Rapporteur contradicted both these responsibilities, and had once again acted as an advocate for one side instead of an impartial observer. The Special Rapporteur gave no serious weight to Israel's reasons for constructing the security barrier, and minimized the import of "permanent status talks" and Israel's confidence-building measures. He placed most of the onus on Israel, ignoring the culture of terror and hatred that the Palestinian Authority had promoted through its schools, media, summer camps, and political and religious rhetoric. He sought to recreate a hierarchy of rights, with those of the Palestinians outweighing those of the Jewish people.

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For use of the information media; not an official record
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For information media - not an official record