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UNITED
NATIONS
E

Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/2000/SR.45
1 May 2000

Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Fifty-sixth session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 45th MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 13 April 2000, at 10.00 a.m.




Chairman: Mr. SIMKHADA - Nepal

CONTENTS


STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF CANADA
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF IMMIGRANT ABSORPTION OF ISRAEL
SPECIFIC GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS:

(a) MIGRANT WORKERS
(b) MINORITIES
(c) MASS EXODUSES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
(d) OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS


The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.

/...


STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF IMMIGRANT ABSORPTION OF ISRAEL

14. Mrs. TAMIR (Israel) said that Israel, which currently had a population of 6 million, had absorbed more than a million people from all over the world in the last 10 years. The forthcoming Passover was a reminder that, in the Jewish tradition, the entry into the land of Israel represented both salvation and personal and political liberation. It was in that tradition that Israel had taken the unusual step of granting automatic citizenship, along with full political and welfare rights, to Jewish immigrants. Under the Law of Return, all Jews and their families who applied for citizenship received equal treatment regardless of age, race, gender, state of health or economic status. Few countries, including ones more affluent than Israel, were prepared to offer such rights to immigrants, particularly to immigrants who were often in dire need.

15. Yet the Law of Return affected not only would-be immigrants but also Israeli citizens. By giving priority to Jews, the Law put Palestinian citizens of Israel in an inferior position. The policy was justified, however, firstly because Israel would acknowledge Palestinians’ right to enact a similar law of return whenever the Palestinian state was established, so that the needs of Palestinians’ everywhere could be met; and, secondly, because, apart from the Law of Return, Israel aspired to treat all its citizens equally, with no privileges for Jews over non-Jews and equal rights and responsibilities for all.

16. The Middle East was not yet able to transcend the age of nation States, but at least the States concerned could aspire to live in peace with each other, respecting the rights of all their citizens. Israel would not rest until that goal was attained.

/...


SPECIFIC GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS:

(a) MIGRANT WORKERS
(b) MINORITIES
(c) MASS EXODUSES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
(d) OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS

(agenda item 14) (E/CN.4/2000/76-79, 80 and Add.1, 81, 82, 83 and Add.1 and 2 and 138; E/CN.4/2000/NGO/15, 22, 31, 47 and 58; E/CN.5/2000/3; A/54/303 and 348; E/CN.4/Sub.2/1999/21)

/...


93. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Minister of Immigrant Absorption of Israel had referred to the “right of return” which allowed any Jew, from any part of the world, to enter Israel and be granted citizenship. It was, in other words, an ethnic law, based solely on the Jewish religion. By the same token, however, it prevented Palestinians returning to their homes and recovering property confiscated by the occupying forces of Israel, although that ran counter to international law and the Geneva Conventions. The Minister had been guilty of misrepresentation. Members should read the text of the Law in order to see how it discriminated against Palestinians.

The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.

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