GENEVA (27 June 2016) - The Human Rights Council today held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
Israel was not in the room to take the floor as a concerned country.
State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said that Israel continued to carry out assassinations, build settlements, and flagrantly violate international humanitarian law, among many other things. The Palestinian people were prevented from exercising their right to self-determination. Those were serious violations of international law which were tantamount to war crimes.
Syria, speaking as a concerned country, condemned human rights violations by Israel, the continued building of the wall, and the destruction of homes. Also condemned were practices in the Syrian Golan where the systematic settlement policy continued. Syria further condemned Israeli practices of arbitrary detention and called for continued monitoring of Israel’s violent and heinous crimes against civilians.
During the general debate, delegations condemned impunity for the violations in the Occupied Palestinian and Arab Territories, where the use of armed force against civilians continued to be the rule. The prolonged deprivation of basic human rights by the Palestinians not only disappointed but also let down the entire Human Rights Council, calling into question its credibility and effectiveness. The Council had an ethical and legal obligation to act effectively and protect the Palestinian people and their human rights, and it was imperative that the Council followed up on an annual basis on the implementation of relevant recommendations. Speakers condemned the continued building of Israeli settlements on occupied territories, and regretted that a number of States no longer participated under this important agenda item. Some speakers expressed concern that the Council had issued more condemnatory resolutions against Israel than for the rest of the world combined, despite pressing human rights issues throughout the world.
Taking the floor during the discussion were Qatar on behalf of the Arab Group, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, Qatar, Cuba, Ecuador, Maldives, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Namibia, China, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Bolivia, Tunisia, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait, Chile, Iraq, Malaysia, Senegal, Angola, Bahrain, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Oman, Lebanon, and Jordan.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: United Nations Watch, Norwegian Refugee Council, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Defence for Children International, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, World Jewish Congress, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (joint statement), American Association of Jurists, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Drotis de l’Homme, International Lawyers Organization, ADALAH-Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Organisation for Defending Victims of Violence, Union of Arab Jurists, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations (joint statement), Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, and Servas International.
The Council is holding a full day of meetings today. It will next hold a general debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
Statement by Concerned Countries
The President of the Council noted that Israel was not present in the room.
State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said that Israel continued to carry out assassinations, build settlements, and flagrantly violate international humanitarian law, among many other things. Those were premediated acts. The fact that ambulances were denied access as well as medical teams confirmed those abuses. They were not accidental killings, but were outside the law. The latest killing was of a 14-year old boy, and three other children were injured. The occupying forces carried out acts against human rights defenders. Illegal policies which had been adopted as well as Israel’s actions against Palestine were condemned. Settlers with the support of the Israeli Government carried out attacks against Palestinians yesterday. Tear gas was used against people. The Palestinian people were prevented from exercising their right to self-determination. Those were serious violations of international law which were tantamount to war crimes.
Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said that continued systematic and widespread violations by Israel in Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan called on the international community to reject double standards. Continued violations of human rights called on the international community to ask Israel to stop its political games. Syria condemned human rights violations by Israel, the continued building of the wall, and the destruction of homes. Also condemned were continued assaults and attacks on civilian Palestinians as well as practices in the Syrian Golan where the systematic settlement policy continued. Syria further condemned Israeli practices of arbitrary detention and called for continued monitoring of Israel’s violent and heinous crimes against civilians.
General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
Qatar, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, deplored decisions by certain States to boycott this agenda item, which encouraged Israel to continue committing crimes against the Palestinians. Israel continued to colonize Palestinian territories through illegal settlements, which ran contrary to all binding resolutions at the international level. Israel continued to attempt to change the demography in Palestine and East Jerusalem, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Arab Group called on Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories.
Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was time for the international community to put an end to Israel’s occupation and impunity, which had resulted in instability in the entire region. The illegal colonization had to be condemned and addressed by the international community as an immediate and urgent matter. The international community should uphold its duties, and ensure accountability for perpetrators, including through the adoption of sanctions.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, condemned Israel for violating all United Nations resolutions, and regretted that other States had decided not to participate in the debate. The Organization listed violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by Israel against Palestinians, and deplored the continuation of illegal settlements, including with the involvement of transnational corporations. It further deplored consistent terrorist actions against Palestinians by settlers, and called for the urgent release of those arbitrarily detained.
South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed its support for the historic struggle of the Palestinian people to realize their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to live in peace and justice. It was unacceptable that impunity for the violations in the Occupied Palestinian and Arab Territories persisted without consequences. The Council had an ethical and legal obligation to act effectively and protect the Palestinian people and their human rights.
Qatar underscored the importance on keeping item 7 on the Council’s agenda. The continued activities of Israeli settlers, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the collective punishment of Palestinians, and attacks on Muslim worshipers had led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The international community had allowed Israel to trifle with international humanitarian law and it had an obligation to restore the rights of the Palestinian people. Israel had to understand that its policy of war would not break the Palestinian people.
Cuba stressed that the human rights situation in Palestine required the priority attention of the Human Rights Council. The use of armed force against civilians continued to be the rule. Cuba condemned the construction and extension of Jewish settlements in the Palestine territories, the forced displacement of thousands of Palestinian families, and arbitrary and racist restrictions on movement throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.
Ecuador thanked the Government of Palestine for sending a team of medical professionals to aid Ecuador following Ecuador’s recent earthquake. Ecuador categorically condemned violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people, violations which included the indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture and degrading treatment. The separation wall was illegal as was the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Maldives said that for decades, Israel had pursued repressive policies and there were daily affronts to human rights. Violations of human rights had created a cycle of hatred and violence. The Government of Maldives condemned the relentless violations of human rights in Palestine, and expressed concern about the presence and development of settlements, as well as worries about the high level of demolitions exacerbating the displacement of the Palestinian people.
Russian Federation expressed concern at the continued deterioration of the human rights situation under discussion, and reiterated the need to relaunch negotiations. Efforts of the international community were required to break the state of inertia, otherwise the situation would continue to get worse. The long-standing inability to find a solution was a reason for the radicalisation of the Middle East. Practical steps were urged to put an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Saudi Arabia regretted that some countries had decided to boycott this key agenda item, despite flagrant violations of the rights of the Palestinians, including torture, intimidation and oppression, as well as the occupation of holy sites. Saudi Arabia condemned continued settlements, as well as the Gaza blockade. The Council should ensure that Israel respected its obligations. Compensation should be paid to the victims. Saudi Arabia welcomed the initiative recently taken by France for a return to negotiations.
Morocco underscored the importance of this agenda item to remind the international community about violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel, including continued illegal measures aimed at changing the demographics of the occupied territories with the aim of rendering a State of Palestine impossible. Morocco condemned all provocative measures by Israel to prevent worshipers from entering holy sites.
Algeria reiterated its attachment to this agenda item as the occupying power continued its violations of human rights, international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions. The continued settlements were in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Israel had to immediately withdraw all settlers from occupied territories, and provide appropriate redress to the victims. The international community should bear its responsibility to ensure that those responsible were held accountable.
South Africa noted that the continued Israeli settlement activity, security measures adopted to protect settlers and their movements, and the violence committed by them against Palestinians and their properties were behind most of the human rights violations against those in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It was imperative that the Council followed up on an annual basis the implementation of the recommendations on that issue in order to combat impunity.
Indonesia stressed the need for ensuring confidence among the involved parties by encouraging confidence-building measures, including the immediate end to the violence, halting settlements and ensuring security. It was the right time to put an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territory that had resulted in instability throughout the Middle East and created the most serious threat to regional and global peace and security.
Bangladesh noted that the prolonged deprivation of the basic human rights of the Palestinians not only disappointed but also let down the entire Human Rights Council, calling into question its credibility and effectiveness. It drew attention to the suffering of Palestinian children due to the hostilities. Lasting and viable peace in the region could not be achieved until the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people were fully recognized and the Israeli occupation forces withdrew from the occupied territories.
Namibia regretted that, despite numerous United Nations resolutions, the question of Palestine remained unresolved, and Israel kept violating its obligations. A solution to the conflict should address the security issue, and eventually lead to two countries living side by side in peace. Whether this peace could be realized depended on the strong political will of the international community to rally against the continued occupation by Israel. Until then, this item had to remain on the Council’s agenda.
China supported effective steps in promoting peace talks, ending occupation, providing humanitarian aid and ensuring the reconstruction of Palestine. China had been providing financial and humanitarian aid to Palestine for decades. It underlined the importance of political will to reach a durable solution to the conflict.
United Arab Emirates was concerned about serious violations by the occupying power, which undermined peace and security in the region. It recalled that Israel was obliged to protect the rights of civilians under its control, and regretted the continuation of violations and illegal settlements. As long as Israel would continue to reject any effort for peace, the situation would remain the same. The two-State solution was under threat, and the international community should renew its commitment to it.
Venezuela supported the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The occupying power ignored all Human Rights Council resolutions and continued with its colonial policies. Settlements and activities of Israel in the occupied territories were illegal under international law. Venezuela condemned the explicit intention of Israel to step up its illegal settlement activities, noting that there was no dissuasive factor standing in the way of the occupying power.
Bolivia deplored the worsening human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the ongoing demolition of homes, undue detention of children, and assassination of Palestinians. The international community had a huge legal, moral and economic responsibility to end the impunity of Israel. Bolivia called on the international community to ensure that Israel upheld international law and to stop the occupation once and for all.
Tunisia said that Israel had continued its violations against the Palestinian people, which had led to the deterioration of the security situation in the Middle East. Israel had continued to kill civilians, displace them, confiscate their property and block them. Israel was operating outside international law. It was thus the obligation of the international community to put pressure on Israel to respect the rights of the Palestinian people.
Brazil said that the international community was at a cross roads in the pursuit of the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, particularly in light of the acceleration of illegal settlement activities. The occupation was the main reason for the human rights violations of the Palestinian people and Brazil stressed that there was no justification for the terrorist attack that had taken place last week.
Egypt said that the challenges faced by inhabitants of the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories continued, including by the blockade that Israel had imposed several years ago. There were permanent violations of human rights by Israeli authorities and Egypt urged the Council to live up to its mandate and ensure that actions were taken to force Israel to implement international resolutions, including the resolutions of this Council calling for the end of human rights violations.
Turkey said that prospects for lasting peace in the occupied Palestinian territories still remained grim; a wide range of practices continued to hamper the dynamics of peace and increased tensions in the region. The dismal effects of the ten-year long blockade of Gaza had further deepened since 2013 and Turkey stressed that ending the blockade was a prerequisite condition for a genuine reconstruction process in Gaza.
Kuwait condemned categorically the heinous crimes that violated international humanitarian law, such as extrajudicial killings, confiscation of land and other practices by Israel. Kuwait condemned the occupation of holy sites, both Muslim and Christian, as well as attacks on worshipers. It called on the international community to bear its responsibility and to provide assistance to the Palestinian people and the holy places.
Chile supported the dispatching of an independent fact-finding mission to the occupied Palestinian territories to assess accountability and justice. Chile co-sponsored all resolutions on item 7, and it called for a clear condemnation of Israeli settlements. It defended the need for all war crimes to be investigated by the International Criminal Court. The continuation of Israeli policies undermined any dialogue between the two sides.
Iraq renewed its support to the Palestinian people and other Arab people under the Israeli occupation. It applauded the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in their call for an independent State. Iraq was concerned by the flouting of international resolutions. The systematic policy of discrimination violated the basic human rights of Palestinians. Iraq underscored the importance of keeping item 7 on the Council’s agenda.
Malaysia said that the reality on the ground for the Palestinian people was deplorable, and urged the occupying power to stop the systematic encroachment into the Palestinian territories, which was an act of stealing land from the Palestinian people. Coupled with the illegal demolition of more than 500 Palestinian-owned structures throughout the West Bank since 2015, this wide-scale destruction had caused an increase in the number of internally displaced persons within the occupied Palestinian territories and hampered the rebuilding efforts.
Senegal noted with regret that the peace process in the Middle East was completely blocked, with a very serious situation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, who continued to suffer powerless from the unbridled construction of colonies. This would only lead to the continuation of violence. Senegal stressed that lasting peace could only be reached on the basis of dialogue and peaceful settlement. Both parties should abandon extremist tendencies and work with the Human Rights Council.
Angola remained concerned about the violation of international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, and supported the crucial role of the international system and civil society in improving the situation of human rights of the Palestinian people. The peace dialogue must be resumed, with consideration of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
Bahrain expressed concern that certain countries continued to boycott item 7, which encouraged Israel to continue its violations with impunity. The Palestinian people had suffered for 70 years and the international community was helpless to stop that. Israel had adopted a policy of racial discrimination. Its policies were carried out in a systematic fashion.
Pakistan expressed disappointment that certain countries had chosen to stop participating in the general debate under item 7, which undermined the credibility of the Human Rights Council. It called for the urgent release of more than 7,000 Palestinian detainees, and urged the international community to ensure accountability for the violations committed by the occupying power.
Iran remained extremely concerned about the deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Since the end of 2015, some 200 Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli armed forces, which continued the harassing campaign against the Palestinian population, aimed at restricting their freedoms to the greatest extent possible.
Yemen said that the Palestinian people continued to suffer under the yolk of Israeli occupation, the construction of illegal settlements and human rights violations. The illegal settlement activity aimed at changing the demographic composition of Jerusalem was contrary to international law and Israel must put an end to all such activities. Settlements were a blatant attack on the rights of the Palestinian people and undermined all efforts to make peace.
Libya continued to denounce Israeli practices against the Palestinian people, including racial policies, confiscation of lands, illegal demolition of buildings, and other illegal practices. Among the collective punishment practices by Israeli authorities was the banning of all worshippers to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which contributed to the escalation of violence. Israel must fulfil its international commitments, stop violence and end the occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories.
Sudan was not pleased with attempts to marginalize this agenda item, which was a fundamental item and must be kept on the agenda until the end of the Israeli occupation. Israel was encouraging violence by illegal settlers, and had continued the inhumane blockade of Gaza for more than nine years. Sudan reiterated its demand for an end to the occupation and welcomed the Council’s resolution seeking to establish a database of corporations which were participating in settlement policies.
Oman noted that the Council had been hesitant to deal with the Palestinian issue. It was clearly a politicized alliance in support of one side, which encouraged the occupying power to continue with its policies. Israel was attempting to isolate Jerusalem from its natural Palestinian environment. Oman rejected all attempts to change the nature of the demographic situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories.
Lebanon stressed that item 7 had to remain as the principal item on the Council’s agenda, expressing concern that certain countries were refusing to participate under item 7. The hostile policies against innocent Palestinians, the demolition of civilian infrastructure, land grabs and settlement policies by Israel continued, resulting in a catastrophic humanitarian situation.
Jordan noted that the gross violations against the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories needed to stop. Israel had to stop its restrictions on freedom of movement, confiscation of land and the construction of illegal settlements. Such policies would only lead to more violence and instability. Jordan called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State within the pre-1967 borders, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
United Nations Watch said that citizens around the world listening to the debate today were right to be confused because of its great disconnect with reality. Israel had been presented as a violator of human rights and yet, Israel was the only country in the region which ran hospitals that treated all, that respected the rights of minorities and the rights of women, and that was a respected technological innovator.
Norwegian Refugee Council said that if Gaza was to recover, the obstruction of humanitarian aid must be stopped and for this, the conditions that had turned Gaza into a chronic humanitarian crisis in which more than 80 per cent of the people were dependent on external assistance, must be removed. The international community must impress upon Israel the necessity of lifting the blockade.
Arab Commission for Human Rights said that Israeli crimes against culture and civilization must be decried, because they aimed to deny the historic importance of the Palestinian people. The physical existence of the Palestinian people remained in danger today, not only their history, memory and culture, and the Council must open an investigation into the destruction of Palestinian memory.
Defence for Children International drew attention to Israel’s use of administrative detention for children. It was the only country in the world that systematically prosecuted between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year. Additionally, Israeli forces or settlers had killed 50 Palestinian children from the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip since 1 October 2015.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in a joint statement, noted that in the past six months around 200 Palestinians had been killed and over 1,000 had been incarcerated by Israeli armed forces without due process. What was going on in Palestine was no less than apartheid and it had to be deplored by the Human Rights Council.
BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights brought to the Council’s attention the increasing Israeli attacks on individuals, groups and associations defending the human rights of the Palestinian people. Human rights defenders and civil society organizations were targeted for documenting Israeli human rights abuses, organizing non-violent protests, and cooperating with the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.
World Jewish Congress expressed concern that the Council had issued more condemnatory resolutions against Israel than for the rest of the world combined, despite pressing human rights issues throughout the world. The Council was reminded that the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement’s central objective was the dismantling of a United Nations Member State, Israel.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said that Israel’s practices in Palestine constituted violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The illegal Israeli policies took place with impunity, and all United Nations Member States were urged to support new and strengthened measures to end all forms of collaboration with Israeli occupation policies.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, in a joint statement with Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, said that since the violence had escalated in October 2015, settlement building had increased in the eastern part of Jerusalem, which had fuelled more frustration among Palestinian residents. Israel was urged to immediately cease settlement expansion, and to put an end to its policy of excessive use of force.
American Association of Jurists was deeply concerned by the failure of Israel to implement the 2012 recommendations by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, notably those on prevention, prohibition and eradication of all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid. The new agreement on military aid by the United States, which was being negotiated, would escalate violations of human rights by Israel, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that Israel was using the recent outbreak of violence to intensify its violence against Jerusalemites, adding that upon the annexation of East Jerusalem, Palestinians were accorded residency status, which was a violation of their rights. The new Special Rapporteur should report on the escalation of human rights violations in Jerusalem and in particular the revoking of permanent residency permits.
International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations said that since October 2015, Israel had escalated the human rights violations of the Palestinian people and continued to disregard the Palestinians’ right to life through shoot and kill policy. International investigations in extra-judicial executions were urgently needed in order to put an end to impunity.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said that the Israeli occupation was exercising all forms of torture against the Palestinian population, and called for retaining this item under discussion on the agenda until the Israeli occupation was over. Generations of Palestinians continued to reject the occupation. The masks were down and those who had conspired were exposed.
International-Lawyers.org said that the most fundamental human rights were being violated, and there was an extraordinary number of summary executions, as well as mass arbitrary imprisonment, including denial of food and water. The repetition of those actions over a long period of time was evidence of the intention to commit the crime of genocide. The Human Rights Council and Special Procedures were urged to investigate Israeli authorities to determine if those actions constituted the crime of genocide.
Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said that impunity was endemic in Israel by design. The vast majority of civil and criminal complaints that the organization had registered remained unanswered, and victims were left without justice or redress. The Human Rights Council should not wait for another round of violence in Gaza to steer the focus toward Israel’s system of impunity.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence welcomed efforts by France to re-launch the peace process. It noted that Israel had never accepted any proposals for putting an end to the conflict, which showed its lack of political will to reach a solution. The Council had to continue to support the Palestinian people in their struggle to achieve their rights, and find ways to hold Israel accountable.
Union of Arab Jurists was concerned about recent declarations by the Israeli Prime Minister saying that the Syrian Golan was Israeli land, in contradiction with United Nations resolutions on this issue. Furthermore, Israel was supporting terrorist fighters in Syria, as it did in the past in Lebanon. This proved that Israel continued to fight the international community’s will and preferred to support terrorism rather than commit to peace.
Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, in a joint statement, with B’nai B’rith, said that Israel was a vibrant democracy living under continuing genocidal threats by its neighbours. It was the rare country in the region where Muslim and Christian populations continued to grow and where they could enjoy equal rights. Israel had a lot to teach to the world on how to fight for its survival while continuing its humanitarian engagement.
Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man said that last March the Human Rights Council had adopted a historic resolution to establish a database of corporations which were operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in illegal settlements. This was significant in light of the expansionist agenda of Israel through businesses and land appropriation, which necessitated action. The United Nations could significantly contribute to this process.
Servas International was deeply concerned about the unresolved Palestinian conflict and was worried about the recent escalation of violence, which was largely due to the inability of the international community to take firm action in accordance with international law. The lasting and sustainable peace must be built on justice. How was it possible that a conflict could last 50 years despite the countless international resolutions and the obligations under international law?
For use of the information media; not an official record