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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Third Committee
36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3799
4 November 2004

THIRD COMMITTEE RECOMENDS SECOND DECADE OF WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLE;
 
CONTINUES DISCUSSION OF RACISM, SELF-DETERMINATION

Six Draft Resolutions Adopted on Youth, UN Crime Programme,
Drug Control, Violence Against Women, Indigenous People, INSTRAW

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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its joint discussion of racism and racial discrimination and the right to self-determination.  For additional background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3798 of 3 November.

The Committee was also expected this afternoon to take action on a number of drafts on matters related to social development, international drug control, crime prevention and criminal justice, advancement of women and indigenous issues.

Statements on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Self-Determination

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MOSTAFA ALAEI (Iran) said that self-determination was fundamental to the realization of all other rights.  Various resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights, had for decades consistently reaffirmed the rights of Palestinian people to self-determination.  Regrettably, Israel continued to defy these rights.  Israel had also persisted in the construction of a separation wall in defiance of the appeals of the international community.  Iran viewed the construction of the wall as illegal and in violation of principles of international law.

He reiterated that the denial of the right to self-determination of people constituted a grave denial of fundamental human rights.  Concrete measures were needed to respond to non-cooperation by the occupying power.

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ABDELOUAHAB OSMANE (Algeria) ...

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... Several peoples in the world continued to appeal to the international community to be allowed to enjoy their inalienable right to self-determination and other freedoms.

That remained the case in the Middle East, he stressed, where the Palestinians continued to struggle for their right to establish a national State with Al-Quds al-Sharif as the capital.  ...

CLAUDIA PEREZ (Cuba) said the exercise of the peoples’ right to self-determination was a preliminary condition for the full realization of all human rights.  It was senseless to talk about respect for those rights as long as foreign domination and occupation persisted.  In that regard, Cuba demanded the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from all occupied Arab territories, as well as full respect for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent and sovereign State.  Likewise, she added, Cuba defended the right to self-determination of the people of Puerto Rico.

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AHMED Y. Y. GZLLAL (Libya) noted that, in the closing decade of the twentieth century, the international community had witnessed both the closing chapter of racism and discrimination in South Africa and horrible acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.  Unfortunately, those problems continued to persist at the outset of the new millennium, as could be seen in the continued suffering of the Palestinian people.  They suffered the worst crimes of racism at the hands of the occupying Israeli army.  ...

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NADYA RASHEED, Observer for Palestine, said the Palestinian people had suffered as victims of the most intricate and pervasive expression of persistent colonialism, apartheid, racism and racial discrimination for 37 years.  Their suffering had not mitigated with the passage of time, but had only deepened and expanded as Israel, the occupying Power, continued to violate their human rights.  Many of the systematic and oppressive measures and actions taken against the Palestinian people could not have continued without an institutionalized racist mentality in the occupying Power.  Over the past four years, Israel had perpetrated war crimes, State terrorism and systematic violations of human rights against the Palestinian people, which had resulted in the killing of 3,340 Palestinians, and the wounding of more than 50,000.

Israel had transformed its occupation into a colonial phenomenon over those 37 years, she added.  About 400,000 illegal Israeli settlers had been transferred to lands forcibly confiscated from the Palestinian people.  Palestinian land had also been confiscated for the construction of so-called bypass roads for the exclusive use of the illegal settlers.  Israel’s construction of the wall must also be regarded in the context of Israel’s illegal settlement campaign, as recognized by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion.  Settler colonialism, like any other form of colonialism, remained rooted in racism and racial discrimination.  It negated the most basic rights of the indigenous population, their national rights, and the very essence of their existence.

Israel also continued to prevent the return of more than 4 million Palestinian refugees, she noted, who had been uprooted from their homes and properties in 1948, in defiance of international law and United Nations resolutions.  Those refugees continued to be deprived of their basic civil, human, political and national rights.  Yet, while the Palestinians had continued to languish in refugee camps for more than 56 years, Israel had elaborated a law of return for Jewish people the world over, granting them automatic citizenship in the same land from which the indigenous Palestinian people had been dispossessed.

The more than 1 million Israelis of Palestinian origin continued to suffer from xenophobia, incitement, racial discrimination, racial violence and hate speech, she added.  Racism had become more explicit, blatant and vehement in all spheres of Israeli public life, and overtly racist and insulting remarks and pronouncements continued to be made by high-ranking government officials, army generals and religious leaders.  Palestinians had been referred to as having genetic defects, or as insects, snakes; they had even been referred to as cancerous.  Some Israeli officials had called openly for the annihilation of the Palestinian people and for their “transfer” from their lands.

The international community must exert all efforts to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people living in the occupied territories, she concluded.  Steps must be taken to end Israel’s occupation and its ongoing colonization of Palestinian land. The rights of Palestinians must be restored.

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REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia), ...

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Regarding the issue of self-determination, he drew particular attention to the issue of the Palestinian people, saying that their long suffering, which was in no small measure attributable to racism, should finally be brought to an end.  Israel should implement all relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular the one concerning the wall.  He urged Israel to honour its obligations under the Road Map.

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SAMI ZEIDAN (Lebanon) ...

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Condemning all forms of terrorism, including its highest form – State terrorism – he noted that the Special Rapporteur on racism had described the Palestinian people as suffering from discrimination.  Among other issues, the security wall had been recognized as constituting a jarring symbol of that discrimination.  The wall’s construction had also been recognized as severely impeding the exercise to the right to self-determination by the Palestinian people.  The General Assembly must continue to give special attention to the situation of the Palestinian people.  His country would continue to insist on the right to return of all Palestinian refugees and categorically rejected all attempts to settle the Palestinian people on Lebanese territory.  Finally, he stressed that criticism of State policies must not be confused with anti-Semitism.

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Statements in Exercise of the Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Israel said that, rather than lecture this Committee about racism, the Observer for Palestine would have done well to urge the Palestinian authorities to work harder to eliminate the constant incitement to hatred in schools, textbooks and the media.  She could also have urged the Palestinian leadership to live up to its obligations regarding the elimination of terrorist attacks.

The security fence, he reiterated, was only a temporary measure that aimed to reduce Israel’s vulnerability to terrorism, which remained the primary obstacle to peace in the region.  If the terror ended, there would be no need for the fence.  If the Palestinian authorities lived up to their obligations to stop the incitement to hatred, it would do much to end the terrorist attacks.

Moreover, he affirmed, Israel remained a multi-ethnic State in which all lived in freedom and equality.  Israel continued to work hard to live peacefully with its neighbours, based on mutual recognition.  It also hoped for a partner with whom to negotiate.

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Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the Observer for Palestine said many questions had come to mind upon hearing the representative of Israel describe his country as a tolerant democracy, which upheld democratic ideals for all its population.  The basic laws of that country stated that human dignity, freedom and liberty had been protected to establish Israel as a Jewish State.  By placing the interests of its Jewish population above all others –especially given that 20 per cent of the population was not Jewish –Israel had created the foundation for legal discrimination.  It had also been proven that special rights and privileges had been accorded to Jewish people worldwide who sought to live in Israel.  Among other practices, a candidate advocating the establishment of a secular, democratic and open Israel had been barred from holding public office.

She also noted that Israel had recently passed a law preventing Palestinians from the occupied territories who married Israeli citizens from moving to Israel and obtaining citizenship.  Thus, the Palestinians of the occupied territories would alone be excluded from obtaining Israeli citizenship and nationality upon marriage to an Israeli citizen.  Moreover, Israelis of Palestinian origin who married Palestinians from the occupied territory would have to leave Israel or accept to live apart.  This had affected thousands of Palestinians living in Israel, forcing them to separate or emigrate.  The law had been publicly justified on grounds of security, in order to reduce the potential for attacks in Israel, but during the debate over it, the Palestinians had been referred to as a demographic threat and a threat to the Jewish character of the State.  This was the latest in a long line of laws that discriminated against the Palestinians living in the occupied territories and in Israel.

She also wished to underscore the blatantly undemocratic nature of the occupation, under which more than 3.8 million Palestinian people lived in the occupied territories.  There were effectively two communities living in the occupied territories, with two separate residential areas, two separate blocks of rights and two separate road networks.  Moreover, one of those communities was living on land forcibly confiscated from the other.  Finally, in response to the accusation that Palestinian authorities had incited hatred, she reiterated that such public incitement had been practiced by Israeli officials.

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