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(a) Elimination of racism and racial discrimination (continued)
(b) Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (continued)
Agenda item 104: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)
The meeting was called to order at 9.50 a.m.
Agenda item 103: Elimination of racism and racial discrimination ( continued ) (A/59/18, A/59/275, A/59/276, A/59/330, A/59/329, A/59/425 and A/C.3/59/4)
8. Ms. Kleitman (Israel) said the issue under consideration was intimately related to the mandate of the United Nations, an organization that had been founded in large measure to combat racism and racial discrimination, and to ensure the right of peoples to self-determination. The United Nations had been created following a dark period of history in which massacres had been committed for ethnic and racial reasons, and entire peoples had been denied the right to self-determination.
9. It would be both disingenuous and immoral to speak of racism today without referring to anti-Semitism, an ever-present blight on humanity that had recently gained renewed vigour; it was a phenomenon that was not only disagreeable and offensive, but also extremely dangerous. Anti-Semitism had always existed, but in recent years it had grown to alarming proportions. Since mid-2000 there had been a sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the world, with their sequels of violence and terror. Such acts included bombing and setting fire to synagogues and Jewish community centres, desecration of cemeteries, harassment and intimidation of individuals and groups, and a steep increase in anti-Semitic propaganda.
10. In the Middle East, a heightened climate and culture of hatred against Jewish people permeated both official and private media, which combined dehumanizing images of Jewish people with insults dating back to mediaeval Europe, and Nazist theories of a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world. The sadly infamous “Protocols of the learned elders of Zion” had become a best seller, and, in the past two years, at least two television series based on classic anti-Semitic defamation had been broadcast to large audiences. The pernicious hatred of the Jew as an individual, of Judaism as a religion, and of the Jewish people as a nation had not diminished. Today, there were calls for the destruction of Israel and the end of the Jewish State, which represented the latest manifestation of anti-Semitism. Classical anti-Semitism had aimed to deny Jews their legitimate place in society. The new anti-Semitism sought to deny the Jewish people their legitimate place among the community of nations.
11. Israel welcomed the fact that the international community had begun to react to the danger represented by anti-Semitism, and the conference on the subject held last June under the auspices of the United Nations Department of Public Information had been a fundamental step forward. The remarks made by the Secretary-General at that conference had made a major contribution to the struggle against the scourge of anti-Semitism. The OSCE conference on the same subject, held in Berlin in April, had been another seminal event, and its outcome, the Berlin Declaration, had been a turning point. Israel looked forward to the day when resolutions condemning anti-Semitism or other forms of prejudice, racism and intolerance would no longer be necessary; but in the meantime it was crucial that the General Assembly energetically condemned anti-Semitism in all relevant resolutions.
12. Like the United Nations, Israel had been born under the guiding principle that all peoples had the right to self-determination. The vision of the founding fathers of Israel involved the establishment a modern State in the ancient homeland of the Jewish nation, in order to uphold its right to self-determination, while living in peace and security with its neighbours. The State of Israel had always recognized the right of all peoples to self-determination. That included the Palestinian people, whom Israel had no interest in subjugating – as attested to by the disengagement plan announced by the Israeli Government. Israel stressed its full support for the two-State solution articulated in the Road Map. Nonetheless, the right to self-determination did not translate into a right to violence. No political grievance justified terrorism and murder. To be implemented honestly and fairly, the right to self-determination had to be exercised alongside respect for the right of others to their own self-determination. The conflict in the Middle East was political, not racial; and keeping the hope of peace alive required mutual respect and recognition to make negotiation and compromise possible. In their desire for self-determination and peace, the Palestinian people had suffered the tragedy of a leadership which, instead of working towards peace, had placed obstacles in the path to self-determination.
13. Lacking a partner for peace, the Israeli Government was seeking to promote the new Road Map. The security fence aimed to reduce terrorism, sponsored implicitly and explicitly by the Palestinian leadership, in order to prevent the situation from obstructing the progress of both peoples towards the two-State solution. Israel looked forward to the day when it could live alongside its Palestinian neighbours, with both peoples enjoying their right to self-determination and peace.
21. Mr. El-Badri (Egypt) ...
23. One of the symptoms of that social and human disease was the situation in the Middle East, and particularly in Palestine, which remained at the mercy of Israeli political intransigence and occupation. As a result of that situation, the Palestinians were suffering from a brutal occupation based on the implementation of racist and discriminatory policies. The speaker wondered how long the international community would continue to stand by with its arms folded in the face of daily human rights violations; how long would innocent people continue to be discriminated against and murdered; how long would Palestinian land remain confiscated; how long would Israel continue building its wall of racist separation. Egypt looked forward to the day when the entire international community would help bring an end to those sectarian practices that were being inflicted on a defenceless people.
24. It was time to develop new methods to speed up the struggle against racial, ethnic or linguistic discrimination. It was time for the international community to implement new measures against that scourge and others, such as the threat posed by nationalist and radical movements. States should adopt educational policies and study programmes that fostered awareness of human rights and put an end to radical ideas based on racial and ethnic considerations. The Special Rapporteur had promised to address that issue in his next reports.
46. Ms. Rasheed (Palestine) stated that she represented a people that continued to be subjected to one of the most brutal forms of colonialism in modern history. At a time when decolonization was virtually complete, the Palestinian people continued to be denied their right to national identity on their own land – their right to self-determination – as a result of Israeli occupation in flagrant violation of legitimacy and international law. Every year that passed without self-determination for the Palestinian people being recognized meant another year of intolerable suffering and misery. Any attempt to ease the situation on the ground without genuinely addressing the core issue of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, would fall short of a genuine solution and fail to achieve full, permanent and lasting peace in the Middle East.
47. Since September 2000, Israel had been waging a violent military campaign against Palestinian people in the occupied territories; over the last four years, the occupying forces had continued to launch military raids and attacks, bombardments and incendiary acts against defenceless Palestinian people; and the number of casualties had risen as a consequence: over 3,450 Palestinians had died, including 760 children, with over 50,000 wounded.
48. Another factor that denied the Palestinian people their basic and fundamental rights to free determination was the creation of new facts on the ground, such as the network of illegal settlements and by-pass roads for illegal settlers, and the illegal building of a wall on land confiscated from the indigenous population throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem. Despite having been ruled contrary to international law by the International Court of Justice, construction of the wall was uprooting hundreds of Palestine civilians who were denied access to their lands, work, social services and, in many cases, their own homes. Lastly, the construction of the wall undermined the right to self-determination and rendered the two-State solution virtually impossible.
49. The Palestinian people had made historic compromises to exercise their inalienable rights and live in peace and dignity; the speaker therefore urged the international community not to lose sight of the fact that the occupation remained the most pervasive cause of all violations and injustices committed against the Palestinian people. As such, the occupation had to be brought to an end to enable the Palestinian population to live a normal and free life in the independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
61. Ms. Majali (Jordan) noted that the international community had collectively affirmed the right to self-determination and its application to peoples under colonial or foreign occupation, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, international covenants on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural ones, and the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action of 1993. The international community had also recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which was based on international law, legitimacy and numerous international declarations, particularly General Assembly resolutions 181 (II), of 29 November 1947, and 194 (III), of 11 December 1948. Jordan welcomed Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), of 12 March 2002, and subsequent resolutions supporting the vision of the Middle East based on two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized boundaries. It once again reiterated its full support for exercise of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people on their own national soil, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.
62. The tragic escalation of violence and resulting serious human rights violations, described by the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories and on the right to food, were a direct consequence of the military occupation and violations of international law by the occupying power. The Palestinian people continued to be deprived of their inalienable right to self-determination, and were enduring numerous and constant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Those included repression and collective punishment, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, settlement building and, more recently, construction of a wall of separation that consolidated further Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and jeopardized Palestinian national interests, thereby undermining the possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State and, ultimately, the achievement of peace. Although all States, including those of the Middle East, had the right to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders, peace and security in that region would not be achieved through military force, but by bringing to an end the occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people and their land, and implementing United Nations resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 1397 (2002), which called for a two-State solution. To that end, Jordan expected the Government of Israel to fulfil the obligations under the Quartet-backed Road Map for Peace in the Middle East, officially endorsed by Palestinians and Israelis at the Aqaba Summit, which envisaged the establishment of an independent Palestinian State by 2005, and set forth clear principles and mechanisms for a just and lasting settlement, namely: two secure States, with their respective capitals in Jerusalem, Israeli withdrawal from the Palestine territories, dismantlement of settlements, and an agreed solution to the refugee problem.
63. In conclusion, Jordan called upon the Government of Israel to take all necessary steps to end the current situation of crisis and violence in the occupied Palestine territory, resume peace talks, and implement all relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular concerning the wall, and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, namely that such construction seriously violated the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
64. Jordan also called upon the international community, including the Quartet, to address the tragic current circumstances and secure a resumption of the peace process.
65. Ms. Alhaj Ali (Syrian Arab Republic) ...
66. All Member States of the United Nations were fully aware of the serious deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, as a consequence of the measures adopted by Israel in its role as occupying power, which were in contravention of international law and undermined the rights of citizens in occupied Arab territories. In this regard, it was appropriate to mention the construction of a racist separation wall and extension of illegal settlements in the occupied Arab territories of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights. Moreover, Israel had expelled Arab citizens from the land in which they lived in order to alter their demographic composition; and Israeli political and religious leaders were constantly making racist statements against Arabs and Muslims.
67. The right to self-determination was enshrined in the United Nations Charter, General Assembly resolutions such as 1514 (XIV), of 14 December 1960, and the corresponding provisions of international conventions on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights. The Syrian Arab Republic lamented the fact that so far, the United Nations had been incapable of averting the oppressive and arbitrary measures adopted by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people, thereby preventing them from exercising their right to self-determination. The Syrian Arab Republic had always given political asylum to people who needed it, offering them equal rights with Syrian citizens. It had also been one of the first countries to adhere to conventions against racism and to commit to their implementation. Peace and security in the Middle East, a genuine barometer of peace and stability worldwide, would only be achieved when the illegal Israeli occupation of Arab territories was brought to an end, and the Palestinian people were allowed to exercise their right to self-determination and establish an independent State on their land, with Jerusalem as its capital. The United Nations was called upon to play a key role in that regard to enable peoples to exercise their right to self-determination, despite attempts to keep it on the sidelines of the fight against racism and racial discrimination throughout the world.
77. Ms. Kleitman (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, stated that the so-called racist security wall was a misnomer, and added tendentious elements to an already complex conflict. In that regard, the speaker noted the dissenting opinion attached to the advisory ruling of the International Court of Justice on that issue, which stated that it was not the wall that represented a serious impediment to the exercise of the right to self-determination, but the problems stemmed from lack of capacity or will among the parties to take steps to resolve it.
78. One delegate had said earlier that the simplest way to resolve the problem would be to end the occupation. But the conflict was not simply one-dimensional. Israel wanted to resolve the question of the disputed territories, and in 1993 had embarked upon measures to that end trusting in the good faith of the Palestinian leaders. Areas of agreement had been identified, and Israel had hoped to hold negotiations on permanent status. The Palestinians had solemnly undertaken to actively fight terrorism, put an end to incitement and confiscate illegal weapons. Nonetheless, the reality had been very different, and in that regard, the speaker would have liked to hear Arab speakers clearly and unequivocally condemn terrorism and bomb attacks perpetrated against civilians.
84. Ms. Rasheed (Palestine) said that the Israeli representative had spoken at length about peace and the solution proposed in the Road Map, but the Prime Minister of Israel had stated that he was not even willing to negotiate, and that the only initiative possible was the separation plan. According to the Israeli representative, the separation plan showed that his Government did not wish to dominate the Palestinian people and recognized their right to self-determination. That was very hard to believe, however, since the occupying power had shown that it was not interested in peace and only sought to perpetuate the submission of another people and its territory through continuous acts of aggression, expansion and annexation.
85. The Government of Israel had hijacked the concept of security, applying it solely to Israelis and depriving the Palestinian people of all aspects of personal, political, legal, territorial, historical, cultural, economic and even human security. The Israeli representative had reaffirmed that the construction of the expansionist wall, or “fence”, as the Israeli Government calls it, was a security measure to prevent terrorism. That was not only illogical and lacking in credibility, but also represented a repeat of the same lie and pretext that had been used by Israel over the years to perpetrate all its crimes against the Palestinian people. It was important to remember that Israel had repeatedly used the pretext of security to justify illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In reality, the whole question revolved around a single issue: land – Palestinian land – and Israeli aims to expand and illegitimately conquer more land at the expense of the Palestine people and their rights, including the right to self-determination. The pretext alleged by the Government of Israel for building the wall was therefore entirely baseless. Suicide attempts perpetrated by Palestinians, alone or in groups, against civilians in Israel were to be condemned. There was no justification for such terror; nor for the State terrorism perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians, who are living under occupation as hostages. Nonetheless, such violence had not emerged out of nothing, but had a direct and identifiable origin: the stranglehold of Israeli occupation and its cumulative effects. The only real solution was a negotiated and just political solution; not a military solution, or an unfair solution imposed unilaterally.
The meeting rose at 12.15 p.m.
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Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.