Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
9 February 1995
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 7th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 2 February 1995, at 3 p.m.
: Mr. HITAM (Malaysia)
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (
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The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (item 4 of the provisional agenda) (
) (E/CN.4/1995/3, E/CN.4/1995/8-E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/43, E/CN.4/1995/13, 14 and 19-22)
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (item 9 of the provisional agenda) (
) (E/CN.4/1995/28 and 29)
Mr. ZHANG Yishan
17. His delegation welcomed the progress made in the last year towards achieving peace in the Middle East. Since the signing in September 1993 of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the two parties had been working actively to implement the agreement. His Government hoped that efforts in that direction would continue so that the remaining issues might be resolved in a comprehensive and just manner, thereby allowing the Palestinian people to enjoy and exercise its right to self-determination.
(Russian Federation) said that, in the Middle East, hope was menaced by hatred and violence. Given the tension in the occupied Arab territories and the Gaza Strip, as described in the Special Rapporteur's report (
), his delegation roundly condemned the recent acts of terrorism, which were a threat to the peace process and could throw the Middle East back into a state of chronic confrontation. He supported the Special Rapporteur's view that the international community should do all in its power to uphold the peace process. For the Commission to make a proper contribution, its resolutions and decisions would have to reflect the real situation, without recourse to outworn rhetoric or the stereotypes and tendentiousness of the past. Its main task was to help Israel and its Arab neighbours to implement measures to guarantee human rights and freedoms, within the framework of the peace process.
26. He welcomed the advances that had been made over the past year: the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, the assumption of powers in those regions by the Palestinian Authority and the recent agreement between Israel and Jordan. Talks were currently in progress in Cairo regarding the organization of elections to the Palestinian Council and he hoped that those discussions would bear fruit and that the momentum of the peace process would soon be such that it could not be halted by extremists and terrorists. He agreed with the Special Rapporteur's proposal that his mandate should be terminated. He also believed that the subject of human rights violations in the occupied Arab territories should in future be examined under item 12 of the Commission's agenda.
(Sri Lanka), ...
44. On the question of the self-determination of the peoples of the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, his Government had consistently supported the just struggle of those peoples to achieve peace and the efforts of the international community to put an end to their sufferings under occupation. In that connection, the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the PLO and Israel was an historic step towards lasting peace in the region. It was the duty of the international community to support that process, so that the peoples of the occupied Arab territories could achieve their inalienable right to self-determination.
(Nicaragua) said that the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO was an historic step forward in the search for a solution to one of the most enduring conflicts of modern times. Despite that historic breakthrough, however, the tragic events still occurring in the Middle East were a warning of how dangerous and volatile the situation still was. Despite the many obstacles, however, the only possible solution was to continue along the path to peace.
46. Those who tried to obstruct the peace process must realize that acts of terror harmed only their own people, since they prevented future generations from making the transition towards security and prosperity. None of the parties in the region could afford to let slip the opportunity to achieve peace, security and prosperity in that tormented region. It was heartening to note that, despite many setbacks, the principal leaders in the region remained resolutely on course towards the achievement of peace.
47. Within the context of the peace process in the Middle East, his delegation also welcomed the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in October 1994. It also noted with satisfaction the progress which had been made towards peace between Israel and other Arab States, including Morocco and Tunisia, during 1994.
48. The problems of the Middle East were multifaceted and complex, including not only political but also military, legal, humanitarian, religious, historical and even psychological aspects. The peace process therefore required the sustained and continuing efforts of the international community if a just and lasting peace was to be achieved. The Commission on Human Rights should firmly support the process and condemn in a balanced and objective manner all manifestations of violence which threatened its success and, in particular, should take a firm stand against any violation of human rights and encourage respect for humanitarian law and the protection of human rights in the occupied territories.
49. His Government was convinced that peace was the best guarantee of respect for human rights. After more than a decade of fratricidal civil strife, Nicaragua had resolutely embarked upon a process of national reconciliation. His Government was well aware of the havoc wreaked by internal conflict and was therefore under no illusions with regard to the difficulty of the peace process in the Middle East. However, it was time for reconciliation and a new era of peace and stability in that region. A lasting solution to the conflict, which guaranteed the rights of the Palestinian people, would mark a significant contribution to the construction of a new international order meeting the aspirations of mankind on the eve of the twenty-first century.
(Observer for the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said he noted that, at the current session of the Commission, there was a marked reluctance to address agenda items 4 and 9, possibly because of a tendency to believe that the peace process had provided a satisfactory solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He used that term advisedly in preference to the term "Middle East", which had been used by the British Colonial Office and such bodies as the Middle East Institute in Washington to present a false picture of Arab history, geography, politics and culture, drowning the Arabs in a sea of quicksand that extended from Morocco to Uzbekistan. While no one was opposed to the concepts of peace, security and stability, the peace process had to be placed in its proper perspective.
66. The two key aspects of Israel's occupation of Arab territories were its failure to implement a whole series of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions dating back to 1967 and its pursuit of a range of oppressive policies in the territories concerned. Those policies included the confiscation and annexation of territory by force, the expansion of settlements, the expropriation of land to build roads for security purposes, the demolition or sealing of Palestinian homes on no sounder basis than suspicion, the plundering and uneven distribution of water resources, the torture and humiliation of Palestinians in prisons and detention camps and the uprooting of trees, a policy conducive to desertification and the erosion of occupied land.
67. The blind hatred and immoral behaviour of the soldiers of the occupying army were described in paragraph 48 of the Special Rapporteur's report (E/CN.4/1995/19). How odd that the occupying authorities should justify such behaviour as abuses committed "for fun or out of hatred" (para. 49). Perhaps the Security Council should adopt a resolution distinguishing between acts of aggression perpetrated in jest and therefore admissible and those perpetrated out of hatred or frustration at the faltering of the peace process and therefore either reprehensible or admissible, depending on the circumstances. The upshot would probably be arguments similar to those concerning the wording of Security Council resolution 242 (1967), the English version of which had omitted the definite article before the words "occupied territories".
68. In view of the practices documented by the Special Rapporteur, his delegation wondered why the Security Council had failed to adopt resolutions imposing sanctions on Israel to compel it to implement its resolutions regarding the occupation of Arab territories, their annexation by force and the Judaization of Jerusalem and Hebron. As those actions were a threat to international peace and security, they logically called for the implementation of the terms of Chapter VII of the Charter and all its mechanisms.
69. The Security Council had adopted resolutions against other States, such as his own, which had not invaded, occupied or annexed another State's territory, but the Council was obviously powerless and prejudiced in the case of Israel. The reason was that Israel had protectors both inside and outside the Security Council, whose aim was to foil any attempt to take action against it under Chapter VII by ensuring that the veto was used whenever the world's conscience was stirred. It was those protectors who had drafted the text of the new world order, using elastic concepts that allowed for misinterpretation of the provisions of international law. One set of standards was applied flexibly to Israeli expansionism and aggression and another set was applied intransigently to the Arabs.
70. As the Special Rapporteur rightly stated in paragraph 76 of his report, political condemnation was not proving effective in the area of enforcement of human rights in the occupied territories. The Security Council therefore had no alternative but to face up to its responsibilities in a spirit of justice and equity and to adopt a resolution imposing sanctions on Israel, together with the other mechanisms provided for under Chapter VII of the Charter, until such time as Israel complied with its resolutions.
71. It was important to ask whether Israel was really interested in a peaceful settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Any objective observer had to concede that its sole aim was to take as much as possible without giving anything in return. It wanted peace with the Arabs but to keep the occupied Arab territories. It wanted secure borders without establishing firm frontiers. One could only assume that it still had "Eretz Israel" in mind, extending from the Nile to the Euphrates.
72. It wanted to possess weapons of mass destruction but to deny the Arabs all means of self-defence, as well as access to any means of technical and scientific advancement. Israel, a nuclear Power, refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons but was trying, together with its protectors, to get the Arabs to sign it, although none of them possessed weapons of mass destruction. Israel's prevaricating position based on the principle of "take all and give nothing" was tolerated but if, for example, the Syrian Arab Republic insisted on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, it was condemned as intransigent and subjected to intense pressure by Israel's protectors.
The meeting rose at 6.15 p.m.