Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

30 November 2000

24th session
30 November 2000

Expresses Concern About Accounts of Gross Violations
of Palestinians' Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this afternoon agreed on the contents of a letter to be sent to the Government of Israel requesting it to submit its second periodic report to the Committee as well as additional information concerning the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Committee noted that Israel's second periodic report, including issues referred to and information requested by the Committee in its concluding observations on Israel's initial report which was considered in December 1998, should be ready for submission no later than March 31 2001.

In light of all the circumstances, including the Committee's concluding observations and the current crisis in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the Committee decided to consider the situation in the occupied territories in its next session with a view to assisting the State party in conforming to its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Committee decided to discuss the situation at a meeting on 4 May 2001 in the afternoon.

The Committee reminded Israel that its previous concluding observations and recommendations had requested the submission of additional information in time for the Committee's present session. It acknowledged receipt of a note verbal from Israel dating 3 November regarding this issue. Further, the Committee wished to emphasize that some of the additional information, especially the material concerning the occupied territories, was requested "in order to complete the State party's initial report and thereby ensure full compliance with its reporting obligations".

The Committee said that in light of the current crisis in Israel and the occupied territories, it was particularly unfortunate that Israel had not provided the additional information by the time requested. In that regard, the Committee noted the report of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson on her recent visit to the Middle East from 8 to 16 November 2000. The Committee said it was deeply concerned by accounts that Israel's recent actions in the occupied territories had resulted in the widespread and gross violations of Palestinians' economic, social and cultural rights.

Among the reports that were of grave concern to the Committee, the following were highlighted: the Israeli military and security forces both inside Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories had prevented medical aid and personnel from reaching injured Palestinians and had attacked clearly marked medical vehicles and personnel in violation of international humanitarian law; wide spread restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on the movement of persons and goods, including medicines, food and essential fuel; children travelling to and from school had come under Israeli fire and many schools in the occupied Palestinian territories had been forced to close; the Israeli Defence Force had destroyed many acres of Palestinian agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territories; unemployment in the territories had tripled during the crisis, causing severe economic hardship, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the population; and the incidence of house demolition and land confiscation in the occupied Palestinian territories had increased, including the destruction of civilian homes through the use of heavy weapons.

The Committee urged Israel to comply fully with its obligations under the Covenant.

Also this afternoon, the Committee discussed the time interval at which States parties should submit their periodic reports. Committee members also discussed how to improve their working methods concerning the submission of country reports. Normally, a State party should provide a periodic report at five-year intervals following its ratification of the Covenant. The Committee discussed the possibility of asking for periodic reports at shorter intervals. The States parties whose reports were mentioned as examples were overdue by more than five years.

When the Committee reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Friday, 1 December, it will finalize its three-week session after having a discussion on remaining issues.

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