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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXVIII, No.10 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (octobre 2005) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 October 2005


October 2005

Volume XXVIII, Bulletin No. 10




Bulletin
on action by the United Nations system and
intergovernmental organizations
relevant to the question of Palestine


Contents
Page
I.
    Secretary-General's Special Representative on the situation of human rights defenders concludes visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory
1
II.
    Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
3
III.
    Secretary-General condemns Palestinian suicide attack
5
IV.
    Secretary-General concerned by escalation of violence
6

The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf, as well as at:
http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/pub_bltn.htm.




I. SECRETARY-GENERAL’S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE ON THE SITUATION
OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS CONCLUDES VISIT TO ISRAEL
AND OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, issued a statement in Jerusalem on 11 October 2005 at the end of her official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which reads in part as follows:



I now come to the most serious part of my concerns – the practice and policies adopted as a part of the occupation of Palestinian Territories which result in conditions and an environment which place human rights defenders operating in these areas at grave risk and presents serious obstructions in every aspect of their functioning.

In stark contrast to the relative openness that the Government allows for NGOs based in Israel, the human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories operate under conditions that are absolutely incompatible with international norms and standards of human rights or the principles set forth in the [1998 UN] Declaration [on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms]. The environment is totally non-conducive for human rights defenders to conduct their work with facility or safety.

Restrictions on the freedom of movement by the Wall, closures, checkpoints, roadblocks and other barriers, while affecting the entire population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, also inhibit and obstruct the activities of human rights defenders. I am especially concerned with the situation of field workers engaged with any area of rights who face daily harassment, intimidation and humiliation in the course of conducting their work. Lawyers are consistently denied access to their clients, journalists are obstructed from observing incidents and reporting on human rights violations, humanitarian assistance is impeded, and health professionals are hampered from fulfilling their duty of providing medical assistance and care.

I have been made aware of several cases in which human rights defenders were prevented from travelling to participate in human rights activities outside of the country. These restrictions on freedom of movement are particularly significant with respect to their effects on NGO interaction and coordination of human rights activities, including between those based in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I also see this as a trend that infringes upon the right of defenders to report human rights violations at national and international levels.

I note the total lack of respect for the freedom of assembly, which is apparent in the repression of the right to peaceful protest in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I have observed one such event in the village of Bil’in, where Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders are seeking to exercise their right to peaceful protest and have been subjected to arrests. I have also received reports of arbitrary arrests and detention and unjustified or disproportionate use of force on previous occasions at the same location, and elsewhere.

Particularly disconcerting are incidents of settler violence against human rights defenders that have been reported to me from Hebron and other places. These are violations of the rights of human rights defenders by non-state actors that the Israeli authorities have failed to address effectively or adequately. I have been told that the Government has recently constituted an inter-ministerial committee to examine the issue as well as cases in this regard. I have yet to be informed of concrete action that committee has taken to deter these acts of violence through enforcement of appropriate policy or punitive measures.

I am convinced that human rights defenders cannot perform their monitoring or reporting functions where they have no access to information, places of detention or reported sites of violations. In the case of the human rights defenders, I am afraid the access in all these cases is either extremely limited or completely denied in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The denial of information has more serious consequences for those whose fundamental rights were denied on the grounds of security intelligence, which is not shared with them or with their representatives.

In response to my expression of concern on these issues the Government of Israel has strongly stressed the security imperatives that make these measures absolutely necessary. While I accept the security concerns which the Government supports with reference to acts of terrorism against the civilian population in Israel, I am fully conscious of the vulnerability of the Palestinian population and see the security of this population equally, if not more severely, threatened and eroded by practices of the occupation as well as of some non-state elements within Israeli society. “Security imperatives” have been allowed to deprive a vast population of their very basic rights, and these measures need deeper scrutiny by all concerned if respect for norms of international human rights and humanitarian law is to be preserved.

Put in the context of human rights defenders, the inescapable reality is that the exceptional conditions resulting from occupation demand a more active human rights community in the face of the serious violations faced by the civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Their inability to function diminishes prospects for peace and security, which are not attainable without respect for human rights. Instead, the human rights community is being weakened by the risks that they are placed under with respect to their life, their physical security, their livelihood and, above all, their right to human dignity.

I also note reports of serious violations committed by the security apparatus under the Palestinian National Authority. Human rights defenders who have exposed abuses of power, conditions and treatment of persons under detention, and corruption in the security apparatus have been threatened and intimidated or have suffered serious harm. Lack of access to places of detention in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority have also been reported and need to be urgently addressed.

I would remind the Government of Israel that, as stated in the Declaration on human rights defenders, the absence of peace and security does not excuse non-compliance with international human rights norms and international humanitarian law. I, therefore, strongly recommend that immediate steps be taken, if necessary with the cooperation of other interested actors, to devise initiatives that would urgently relieve the conditions that are causing serious obstructions to the defence of human rights.

On the part of the Palestinian National Authority, there is a need to recognize its responsibility to alleviate the distress and actively provide protection to the population to the extent of its ability and authority. The practices of occupation should not be allowed to become the norm under which the Palestinian population continues to be governed either now or in the future. This will only be possible with stronger support to and better cooperation with the human rights community, and a clear acknowledgement of the legitimacy and value of the work that they do.

In the end, I would like to commend the resilience and courage of human rights defenders who continue to work for the promotion and protection of human rights despite extremely challenging circumstances. I must express my strongest appreciation for the solidarity and cooperation that I have witnessed between human rights defenders in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I am also aware that the defenders’ community finds further strength in international solidarity.




II. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS
THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE
EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION

On 20 October 2005, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Security Council on the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” The following are excerpts from his statement (S/PV.5287):



In short, disengagement has yet to revive the peace process. But we continue to believe that it offers a basis and an opportunity to do exactly that, through completion of the agenda laid out by the Quartet, and by renewed and broader dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian Governments. The international community stands ready to assist, but the responsibility for seizing this opportunity rests, more than ever before, with the parties.

Let me turn to steps taken since disengagement. The Quartet’s Special Envoy, James Wolfensohn, returned to the region on 7 October to push forward the Quartet’s agenda in relation to disengagement. Mr. Wolfensohn sought to conclude agreements on the six-plus-three issues relating to movement, security and reform, which have formed the basis of his work since June.

The first of the six joint issues is border crossings and trade corridors. Reopening the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza is of immediate social and political importance, because it would restore a measure of Palestinian access to the world outside Gaza. It should also pave the way for agreements on border crossings with Israel, a link between Gaza and the West Bank, and the reopening of Gaza’s air and sea ports. Since 17 September, the Rafah crossing has been fully open for only five days, pending agreement between the parties on administration of the crossing. According to the Special Envoy, agreement on the crossing regime is close: the parties have reached consensus on the main technical elements of its administration, and on a third-party presence along the border with Egypt. The European Union has offered to consider such a role, although a formal invitation has not yet been issued. We are hopeful, however, that reports that the Rafah crossing will reopen by 15 November are accurate, and we urge the three parties to continue to cooperate on this crucial issue.

The flow of people and goods between Israel and Gaza and between Israel and the West Bank must also be improved. It is the judgement of the Special Envoy that the parties are close to agreement on a management system for those borders, but Israel has, since 5 September, declined to meet with the Palestinian Authority in order to take the negotiations forward. Nor are proposals for a corridor to link the West Bank and Gaza being discussed by the parties. The United States and the World Bank have launched an options review to compare the costs of a road link and those of a railway, but Israel has demanded that work on that study cease.



I wish to make a few observations. A month ago, Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and the Palestinians’ success in restraining violence during the disengagement period contributed to a sense of optimism in the Middle East. Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians seemed close to agreeing measures that would enable the population of Gaza to travel and trade more easily. Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas were planning to meet for the first time since June. Other developments pointed to a thaw in the attitudes of some Arab and Islamic countries towards Israel. An upsurge in violence, however, has undermined those positive political developments and dulled the sense of optimism. The postponement of proposed meetings between President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon was particularly disappointing, since a return to bilateral negotiations would have marked an important turning point in the efforts to end the conflict.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are now planning to resume talks in November. In our view, such meetings should take place periodically, and we hope that the leaders will have the tenacity and the courage to continue with negotiations over the coming months, even if further security crises occur. The political track has to be resilient to the inevitable ups and downs of this unstable post-disengagement period.

The international community, meanwhile, will continue to play its part in consolidating the success of disengagement. Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn will continue his efforts to push the parties towards agreement on the key “six plus three” issues. The donors are also pulling their weight to build on the positive momentum created by disengagement.

The Quartet will continue, as it has for the past three years, to work to achieve the vision of a just, lasting and comprehensive regional peace based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002). We welcome today’s meeting between President Bush and President Abbas in Washington, D.C. However, the international community can only assist in restarting the peace process; it cannot lead a return to negotiations unless both parties take bold steps to fulfil their respective commitments. The parties must work constructively over the coming month to clear up the outstanding access and movement issues relating to disengagement, acting in parallel to implement obligations set out in the road map.

One of Israel’s primary obligations under the road map is to halt all settlement activity, including natural growth, and dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. The cessation of settlement activity is an important confidence-building measure; while Israel continues to construct settlements in the West Bank, it is hard for President Abbas to convince Palestinians that peaceful negotiations with Israel will lead to the creation of a viable Palestinian State. The same must be said of Israel’s construction of the barrier on Palestinian land.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority must persist with comprehensive reform and with the strengthening of its security services with the aim of ending violence and terror, as stipulated in the road map. The events of the past month have highlighted how Palestinian internal security problems have the potential to derail the political process and the peace process. There is evidence that Palestinians strongly support President Abbas’ efforts to rein in militant groups. The Palestinian leadership now needs to build on that support and demonstrate its ability to improve Palestinian law enforcement capabilities.

Finally, I would like to say that the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and military infrastructure has lifted a burden from the people of Gaza. It also has the potential to create new opportunities for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Further energetic coordination, cooperation and engagement by Israelis, by the Palestinians and by the international community are needed in order to translate successful disengagement into a negotiated and sustainable peace.


III. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS PALESTINIAN SUICIDE ATTACK

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 26 October 2005 (SG/SM/10186):

The Secretary-General was shocked to hear of the terror attack today at the market in Hadera, Israel, which caused a number of casualties among Israeli civilians. The Secretary-General condemns this act and extends his condolences to the families of the victims. At the same time, he calls for an immediate stop to the escalation of all violent acts. The Secretary-General believes that an opportunity exists to address the long-standing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis; it must not be allowed to fall victim to violence. The forces of moderation and negotiation must prevail.


IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 28 October 2005 (SG/SM/10192):

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the further escalation of violence in the past 24 hours in the Middle East. He deplores the action taken in Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza on 26 October.

Extrajudicial killings are not consistent with international law. The Secretary-General reminds Israel of its obligation to take all precautions to ensure that non-combatants are not harmed.

The Secretary-General calls on both parties to take all steps possible to prevent further violence.



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