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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/835
30 March 1998


HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION CONDEMNS ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES AND VIOLATIONS AGAINST PALESTINIANS

Continues Debate on Indigenous Issues

(Reissued as received.)


GENEVA, 27 March (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon condemned Israeli abuses against Palestinians in the occupied territories and reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination without external interference.

Voting on a number of measures concerning the situation in the occupied Arab territories and the right to self-determination, the Commission called on Israel to end immediately practices such as the wounding and killing of Palestinians; detention of thousands of Palestinians without trial; and confiscation of Palestinian lands. It further expressed grave concern at the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, and strongly condemned all acts of terrorism, calling upon all parties not to allow any such acts to affect the ongoing peace process negatively.

The Commission also called on Israel to cease illegal imposition of its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the Syrian Golan and to desist from changing its physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status.

Reacting to the measures, the observer for Israel said the texts of the resolutions ritually adopted at the Commission had this year gone from bad to worse, a reflection of the fact that there was no way that Israel could get a fair hearing. Israel was the only country to have a whole agenda item devoted to it, he said, adding that even the faintest criticism of gross Palestinian violations was absent from the unbalanced texts approved.

The representative of the United States, the only Commission member to vote against the resolutions on the situation in the occupied territories, said it was not for the Commission to interfere with or prejudge what Israel and the Palestinian Authority would do in their peace negotiations.

Meanwhile, the observer for Palestine said the Secretary-General had told Israel two days ago that it must cease taking United Nations resolutions so lightly. The resolutions were based on the principle of "land for peace", a principle the Israeli Government rejected, he added.

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Action on Resolutions

In a resolution on the question of violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/1998/L.3), the Commission condemned the continued violations, in particular the continuation of acts of wounding and killing, detention of thousands of Palestinians without trial, confiscation of Palestinian lands, the extension and establishment of Israeli settlements thereon; the confiscation of Palestinians' property and expropriation of their land; the demolition of homes and the uprooting of fruit trees; the opening of a tunnel under the Al Aqsa mosque, the revocation of identity cards of the citizens of the Palestinian city of Jerusalem, and called upon Israel to end immediately those practices; reaffirmed that all Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 were illegal and should be dismantled; condemned the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogation; called upon Israel to cease immediately its policy of enforcing collective punishments; and called upon Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

The above resolution was adopted by a roll call vote of 31 in favour to 1 against, with 20 abstentions. The results of the vote were as follow:

In favour: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda.

Against: United States.

Abstentions: Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

YOSEF LAMDAN (Israel) said the texts of the ritualistic resolutions about to be voted on had this year gone from bad to worse, a reflection of the fact that there was no way that Israel could get a fair hearing at the Commission. Israel was the only country to have a whole agenda item devoted to it. That lack of balance was evident in the draft resolutions, where even the faintest criticism of gross Palestinian violations was absent. Israel also regretted that L.7 had been submitted by the countries of the European Union: they had not only hardened the language, but also gutted the text of what few elements of balance it used to have. Israel believed the resolutions were the ultimate in politicization of a complex and extraordinarily difficult topic which deserved a different form of treatment.

NANCY RUBIN (United States) said the Secretary-General had said two days ago that it was time to usher in a new era of relations between Israel and the United Nations. That was true. It was not for the Commission to interfere with or prejudge what Israel and the Palestinian Authority would do in their peace negotiations. Other parties were involved; all should work together; that was the only realistic way to get the peace process moving again. The United States viewed the building of new settlements in the West Bank as unhelpful, and had called for a "time out"; nonetheless, one-sided rhetoric and interference in the peace process at the Commission, were likely to make matters worse. The United States could not support resolution L.3 or other related resolutions. It also felt item 4 of the agenda should be eliminated and Israel should be dealt with as were other countries whose human-rights records were in question. To have a separate agenda item for only one country was truly a double standard.

AUDREY GLOVER (United Kingdom) said the European Union regretted that it was not possible to support draft resolution L.3 this year. The Union much appreciated the cooperative approach by the co-sponsors and their willingness to consider certain changes to the text. Unfortunately, the time available had been insufficient to allow detailed consideration necessary for the Union to change its position.

NABIL RAMLAWI, observer for Palestine, said the Secretary-General had told Israel two days ago that it must cease taking United Nations resolutions so lightly. The resolutions were based on the principle of land-for-peace, a principle the Israeli Government rejected. The Israeli delegation just now had not denied Israel's many violations of the human rights of Palestinians. The representative of the United States had referred to the peace process, but she understood as well as anyone that the Israeli Prime Minister was the one who had brought down the peace process.

In a resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/CN.4/1998/L.5), the Commission called upon Israel to cease illegal imposition of its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the territory and to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure, and legal status of the Golan; emphasized that displaced persons of the region must be allowed to return to their homes and recover their properties; called upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on Syrian citizens in the occupied region and to desist from repressive measures against them; and called upon member States not to recognize any of the legislative or administrative measures and actions taken in these cases by Israel.

The above resolution passed by a roll call vote of 33 in favour to 1 against, with 19 abstentions. The outcome of the vote was as follows:

In favour: Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Venezuela.

Against: United States.

Abstentions: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

AUDREY GLOVER (United Kingdom) said the European Union regretted not being able to support the resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan. Time available for consultations had been too short to permit the proper exchange with the view to change the resolution so that the Union could support it. The language of the resolution was too strong and went beyond resolution 52/68 passed by the General Assembly last year with the support of the Union.

In a resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories (E/CN.4/1998/L.7), the Commission expressed grave concern at expansion of the settlements, installation of settlers, expropriation of land, demolition of houses, confiscation of property, expulsion of local residents and construction of bypass roads which changed the physical character and demographic composition of the territories, and recognized that such acts were illegal; strongly condemned all acts of terrorism, whilst calling upon all parties not to allow any acts of terrorism to affect the ongoing peace process negatively; and called upon Israel to comply fully with previous Commission resolutions on the subject, to match its stated commitment to the peace process with concrete actions to fulfil its obligations, and to forego and prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories.

The above resolution was adopted by a show-of-hands vote of 51 in favour to 1 against.

In a resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine (E/CN.4/1998/L.4), the Commission reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination without external interference; and called upon Israel to comply with its international and United Nations obligations and to withdraw from the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and other occupied Arab lands, which it had occupied since 1967 by military force.

The above resolution was adopted by roll call vote of 34 in favour to 1 against, with 18 abstentions. The result was as follows.

In favour: Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Venezuela.

Against: United States.

Abstentions: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Poland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

YOSEF LAMDAN (Israel) said the statement made by Israel under previous resolutions applied to the resolution L.4 as well. This attempt to score political points outside the normal agenda item and outside the peace process struck Israel as even more blatant.

NABIL RAMLAWI, observer for Palestine, said he had just heard Israel saying the draft resolution might hamper the peace process. The Israeli delegation, indeed the whole world, must be aware that if the Palestinian people were unable to exercise their right to self-determination, there would never be any peace in the region. The draft resolution affirmed the right of people to self-determination, in particular the Palestinian people.

AUDREY GLOVER (United Kingdom) said the European Union regretted that it was not possible to support this resolution this year. It appreciated the cooperation shown by other delegations over the language of the measure, but the time available was not sufficient for the Union to conclude dialogue sufficient for it to consider changing its position. However, it found those negotiations a promising starting point for possible compromise next year.

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