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Summary record of the 11th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 10 October 2006, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Al-Bayati .................................................................... (Iraq)
later: Mr. Faati (Vice-Chairman) .................................................... (Gambia)
Agenda item 61: Advancement of women (continued)
(a) Advancement of women ( continued)
(b) Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly ( continued)
27. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) said that many Palestinian families had been unable to observe Ramadan traditions owing to the economic blockades and the harsh restrictions on the movement of Palestinian goods and services imposed by the occupying Power. Israel had consistently engaged in the violation of international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in the Gaza Strip. The occupying Power had continued to kill, injure and maim Palestinian civilians, including women and children; to destroy houses, property, vital infrastructure and farmlands; to confiscate land; to construct the expansionist Wall; to build and expand settlements and bypass roads; to arrest, detain and imprison thousands of Palestinians; and to cause the further deterioration of the already dire economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people by restricting the movement of medical and humanitarian assistance throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
28. Palestinian women had borne the brunt of those illegal Israeli policies and undergone constant and merciless harassment and humiliation, violence, terror, punishment and discrimination. Women who traditionally managed the household found themselves compelled to rely on the charity of relatives or international humanitarian organizations. Moreover, when confronted with the painful reality of death or imprisonment of one of their male family members, Palestinian women were forced to face these burdens and responsibilities alone.
29. Restrictions on the movement of people and goods had crippled the Palestinian economy, transforming villages and towns into isolated prisons and resulting in the untimely death of Palestinian women and children. Many pregnant women ready to give birth had been prevented by Israeli occupying forces from crossing checkpoints and receiving proper medical attention. Since September 2006, at least 69 women had been forced to deliver in the back seat of their car or, as one Palestinian woman had sadly recalled, “behind a bush, in the dust, like an animal”. The psychological effect on Palestinian women who had undergone such treatment at checkpoints could not be understated.
30. Her Government had established the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 2003 to ensure the mainstreaming of women’s rights in all Palestinian Authority institutions and to address all types of violence against women. It was difficult to speak, however, of any real advances when women and indeed the entire Palestinian population were being denied their most basic human rights and the women of Gaza could not even secure basic food commodities such as flour, clean water or even baby formula to feed their children. Nevertheless, Palestinian women continued to strive to achieve their inalienable rights, including their right to self-determination in their own independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The international community must work together to end Israel’s 39-year occupation so that Palestinian women and their families might finally lead normal lives.
44. Ms. Almadhani (United Arab Emirates) ....
46. ... Finally, with respect to the occupied Palestinian territories and Palestinian women in particular, the United Arab Emirates called upon the international community to provide the necessary support and assistance to the Palestinian people, and to compel Israel to respect the relevant international humanitarian laws, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, relating to the protection of civilians. Lastly, it called for the strengthening of development assistance to developing countries to help them create an enabling environment for the advancement of their societies in general and women in particular.
63. Mr. Israeli (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Palestine had ignored the roots of prejudice against women in Palestinian society, instead shifting the blame onto Israel. Over a year had elapsed since Israel had left Gaza. However, that gesture had been met with Palestinian terror and the election of Hamas, a terrorist organization. Discrimination against and exploitation of women was a feature of Palestinian society, quite apart from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian women were the victims of violence, sex crimes and honour killings in increasing numbers.
64. Checkpoints did indeed inconvenience those attempting to cross them, but the checkpoints were the result of a continuous campaign of Palestinian terror. Eight Palestinian women had become suicide bombers, and at least 20 other women had been apprehended on their way to commit similar acts. One Palestinian woman, permitted to go through a checkpoint after complaining of pain, had blown herself up, killing four soldiers and wounding 17 other people, including seven Palestinians. Palestinian terror had consequences for Israeli women. Twelve out of 15 victims in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria five years earlier had been women.
65. Mr. Rasheed (Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that everything had to be viewed in the context of the occupation, which was the source of all the problems experienced by the Palestinian people over nearly the last 40 years. The lives of Palestinian women were a constant nightmare of suffering and torture every single day. They were forced out of their homes at gunpoint as their children watched. When pregnant Palestinian women were not permitted through checkpoints, they had to give birth in the open air and were thus robbed of joy even at that important moment. Unilateral disengagement from Gaza by Israel had not been a step forward. It had been disastrous. Gaza was an open-air prison, and no food or medicine could go in or out.
66. Mr. Israeli (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Israel cared about the plight of Palestinian women, as they were the wives and daughters who would build stable, healthy families and a peaceful future. However, with Hamas in control of the Palestinian Authority, the plight of Palestinian women had not improved. Nonetheless, Israel had not lost hope for a partnership between Israeli and Palestinian women to work together for peace, democracy, freedom and tolerance in the region.
The meeting rose at 6 p.m.
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