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UNITED NATIONS

CHR/2002/27/03
27 March 2002

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONTINUES TO DEBATE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES

Commission on Human Rights
58th session
27 March 2002
Morning


The Commission on Human Rights this morning continued with its consideration of the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, hearing several speakers criticize Israeli practices in the territories.

Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that gross and systematic violations of human rights by Israel had reached an unprecedented level in the past few months. The continuation of Israel's brutal policies and the violation of all United Nations resolutions and international human rights instruments were clear to all - these were not actions of self-defence.

Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the Commission must take more effective action in ensuring the rights of the Palestinian people, or the credibility of the Commission and the United Nations as a whole would be compromised. With recent efforts by the United States and the Arab countries towards a lasting solution to the Palestinian problem, peace was within reach. The ball was now - and had always been - in Israel's court.

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said there was a pressing need to lift the restrictions on the movement of the Palestinian people and President Yasser Arafat. A just and durable peace could only be achieved if the human rights of the Palestinian people, including their inalienable right to self-determination, were respected.

Some speakers, like Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, blamed both the Palestinians and the Israelis for the violence. The European Union condemned terrorism and said that indiscriminate terrorist acts had killed and injured innocent civilians. The Palestinian Authority bore full responsibility for fighting terrorism with all legitimate means at its disposal. Israel, on the other hand, must complete the withdrawal of its military forces from areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and must stop the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, agriculture and other facilities.

And Guatemala said the five draft resolutions in the Commission on the situation in the Middle East were politically motivated, were not objective and were loaded with inflammatory language with partial and tendentious references to Security Council resolutions which systematically omitted the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. The Commission ran the risk of being hijacked by those who wanted to impose their anti-Semitic political agenda.

Representatives of the following countries took the floor this morning: Egypt, Malaysia, Spain, Guatemala, China, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Canada, Libya, India, Indonesia, Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Togo, Tunisia, Senegal, Norway, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran and Switzerland. The League of Arab States also addressed the Commission.

The representatives of Israel and Algeria exercised their right of reply.

The Commission will reconvene this afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine.


Statements

NAELA GABR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab League, said that the gross and systematic violations of human rights carried out by Israel since 1967 were known to all. These violations had reached an unprecedented level in the past few months. The violations had started with the Israeli occupation of Arab territories. Israel flouted UN resolutions that called on it to withdraw from occupied Arab territories. The continuation of Israel's brutal policies in violation of all UN resolutions and international human rights instruments was clear to all. Israeli aggression reflected the arrogance of the Israeli forces and challenged the will of the international community. Israeli policies and practices showed that Israel was not acting in self defence. What could justify closures and blockades, demolition of houses, confiscation of land, uprooting of trees, killings of innocent civilians, including children, and bombing of schools and UN offices?

This was a war where Israel was attempting to break the will of the Palestinian people and humiliate them. The Israeli Government was urged to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The violations of human rights were due to the occupation. Israel took no measures to investigate human rights violations and this encouraged the continuation of violations. Israel continued to expand settlements, which was an unacceptable provocation. Peace could not be reached unless Israel withdrew from Palestinian lands as well as the Syrian Arab Golan and Lebanon.

RAJMAH HUSSAIN (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the inhuman treatment of children, the demolition of Palestinian houses and properties to make way for expansion and new Israeli settlements, the restrictions on the freedom of movement, were but a few examples of flagrant Israeli violations of human rights of the Palestinians. Apart from these, curfews were being imposed in the occupied territories, the water supply of the Palestinians was cut off and the Palestinians were constantly being harassed by the presence of Israeli ground troops, helicopter attacks, tanks and F-16s patrolling their roads and skies. The number of casualties, dead and wounded, was rising so rapidly that it was outdated even as she spoke.

The Israeli disregard for resolutions and international humanitarian law must stop. The OIC member countries urged the Commission to consider taking more effective action in ensuring the rights of the Palestinian people. Otherwise, the credibility of the Commission and that of the United Nations would be compromised. The policy of the Sharon Government was to continue to justify the atrocities that it was perpetuating against the Palestinian people in spite of international condemnation. Sharon's policy was to ride on the back of the anti-terrorism fervour emanating from the events of 11 September and to justify its savage assaults against President Arafat and the Palestinian people as part of the "global war against terrorism". The world, however, was not blind to the truth of the matter. With recent efforts by the United States and the Arab countries towards a lasting solution to the Palestinian problem, peace was within reach. The ball was now, and always had been, in Israel's court.

JOAQUIN PEREZ-VILLANUEVA Y TOVAR (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that over the past year, the Israeli presence and military operations in the occupied territories, including the illegal presence of Jewish settlers in those territories, had led to repeated human rights violations. Furthermore, the European Union reiterated its firmest condemnation of terrorism. The indiscriminate terrorist attacks over the past weeks killing and injuring innocent civilians should be condemned. As the legitimate authority, the Palestinian Authority bore the full responsibility for fighting terrorism with all the legitimate means at its disposal. Its capacity to do so should not be weakened. Israel, notwithstanding its right to fight terrorism, should immediately complete the withdrawal of its military forces from areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The Union reiterated its conviction that there could be no military solution to the conflict.

The European Union reiterated its concern about the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, agriculture and other facilities, which had been helping Palestinian social and humanitarian development and which were financed by the Union and other donors. The Union also urged the Government of Israel to put an end to those practices and would continue to follow-up on that question. It continued to strongly oppose Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. The Union called upon the Israeli Government to reverse its settlements policy, and also called upon the Israeli authorities to ensure the protection of the population in the occupied territories, including the prevention, investigation and prosecution of those acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers.

ANTONIO ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala) said that his country was of the view that the examination of the Israeli-Palestinian situation under three agenda items and within five resolutions was absolutely inappropriate and unjust. Furthermore, the same situation was considered also under other items. Any specific situation should be considered under item 9. The resolutions against Israel were politically motivated and ran contrary to a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. They were hardly objective and were loaded with inflammatory language with partial and tendentious references to Security Council resolutions which systematically omitted the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. The most serious cause for concern was that both the Commission's resolutions and reports by Special Rapporteurs did not mention the fact that since 1948 other countries in the region, which were responsible for the violation of the UN Charter, UN resolutions and numerous other norms of international law, had attacked Israel in wars of invasion and denied its right to exist.

In most cases, the Government of Israel had reacted in response to actions by the Palestinian Authority and in face of countries in the region that did not recognize its right to exist and did not abandon the intention of destroying it. The proposal put forward by Saudi Arabia was an encouraging sign. However, its rejection by other countries in the area that continued to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist showed again that some still accorded more importance to the destruction of Israel than to the human rights and future of the Palestinian people. Finally, Guatemala believed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a serious and bloody one. However, the Commission could not forget millions of other victims in the world and omit them from its agenda. Genocides, wars and atrocities in different regions in the world were not accorded sufficient attention and were certainly not given specific agenda item and were not subject to multiple resolutions. The Commission ran the risk of being hijacked by those who wanted to impose their anti-Semitic political agenda.

LIU XINSHENG (China) said the question of the Middle East was a major concern for the international community, resolutions had been produced every year for several decades. It was unfortunate that yet again, violence had broken out and casualties were increasing. The situation was and remained tense, and relations between both sides were deteriorating. The situation had aroused the concern of the international community, not only due to human rights violations but also since the protracted deadlock had an effect on international peace and security at large. China fully supported the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and the international community must seek ways to end the violence and find a lasting solution. Israel was urged to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories. Using force to fight force was not a conducive way to deal with the root causes of the problem, since disputes needed to be settled through peaceful means.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, China had consistently supported the struggle of the Palestinian people and the peace process. China had also lent its support to several Security Council resolutions. By working with the international community, a lasting peace could be found, so that human rights could be restored in the region.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the extremely serious situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories required urgent attention and action by the Commission. The Commission should respond to the anguish of the Palestinian people -- the "pain of a people in captivity", as Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian representative, termed it -- and the tragedy taking place in the Holy Land. The isolation and quarantine imposed on President Arafat by Israel epitomized the plight of the Palestinian people. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory had deteriorated seriously over the last 18 months. It was marked by unbridled violence, collective punishments and the slaughter of innocent persons.

The Palestinian refugees in the West Bank were subjected to multiple human rights violations and were the largest proportion among those killed in the current conflict. Their properties and camps were easiest and most vulnerable. The demolition of physical infrastructure, business properties and farm lands of the Palestinian people constituted collective punishments and violated human rights and international humanitarian law. The Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention held last year had affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied territories and the grave breaches of humanitarian law committed by Israel. The High Commissioner's report and that of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission maintained ample testimony of the situation prevailing in the occupied territories, the various dimensions of the conflict and its impact on the human rights of the Palestinian people.

NIKOLAY S. RAKOVSKIY (the Russian Federation) said his country was alarmed by the situation in the occupied Arab territories, where violence had reached unprecedented levels, resulting in thousands of victims and the destruction of the social and economic infrastructure. There was a risk that violence in the region would spiral out of control, threatening international peace and stability. The fate of the entire Middle East could depend directly on how events developed. There must be an end to the escalating violence and urgent measures must be taken to relax tensions. Israel and the Palestinian Authority must take radical steps to halt the violence.

The Russian Federation shared the view of the Special Rapporteur that the Israeli occupation was the main cause for the violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied territories. Russia was in favour of the renewal of the Special Rapporteur's mandate and confirmed that it agreed with the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories. Peace could be achieved only through the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, the principles of the Madrid Conference, existing agreements as well the recent Security Council resolution 1397. Russia also attached great importance to the peace proposal put forward by Saudi Arabia.

MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada) said that the Commission should aim in its work to reflect the spirit of the recent landmark Security Council resolution 1397, which referred to "two states, Israel and Palestine, living within secure and recognized borders". Canada strongly condemned terrorist acts and called on all parties in the region who truly sought peace to condemn such attacks. Canada had always maintained that all peoples in the region had a right to security without living in the shadow of terror. The political process should be reinvigorated as a matter of extreme urgency. Canada believed that both Israel and the Palestinians should reaffirm their commitment to negotiations as the only viable path to a comprehensive, just peace. Israel and the Palestinian Authority were responsible for ensuring respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the citizens of the West Bank and Gaza. Both Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Authority's failures of governance, had resulted in violations of human rights and conditions that constituted an impediment to peace.

Canada continued to oppose illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories, ill-treatment of detainees, land confiscation, demolition of civilian housing and other infrastructure, the use of administrative detention, and the targeting, without trial, of those suspected of terrorist acts. Attacks against individuals Israel believed to be responsible for terrorist activity were also a matter of concern. The human rights record of the Palestinian Authority was equally a matter of serious concern. Canada strongly believed that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties, together with factors such as the continued development of democratic values and institutions, would be critical elements in ensuring respect for human rights in the West Bank and Gaza.

NAJAT AL-HAJJAJI (Libya) said that the Special Rapporteur's report was in accordance to his mandate but also gave the legal arguments to respond to Israel's occupation forces. The violations of the occupying forces in human rights and humanitarian law had been heard for decades without concrete results. Was Israel in fact a rogue state? Were the rules of humanitarian law and human rights only applicable to some countries? Were these new foundations for human rights and international relations? It seemed so if arbitrary killings and the targeting of Palestinians was not considered to be against humanitarian law. The collective punishments, the closure of villages, and the establishment of settlements were against international law. If these laws did not apply to Israel, where did these laws apply? It was time to say that what was happening in the Palestinian territories was not simply violence - it was occupation. The object of Israel was to usurp the land, empty it of its population and import other people to take over. On what basis did Israel occupy Palestinian land? On what basis was Israel killing Palestinian people?

SHARAT SABHARWAL (India) said that the tragic cycle of violence that had engulfed the Middle East region since September 2000 had been damaging to peace and stability. The world had watched with deep concern and consternation the incidents of violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and other parts of the Palestinian National Authority and Israel. There had been deliberate acts of provocation, excessive use of force and violations of basic human rights including the right to life. Many innocent lives had been lost. The violence had derailed the Middle East peace process and severely dented the trust and confidence between the parties. The overriding need of the hour was restraint, avoidance of provocation and shunning of use of indiscriminate force, encouragement to violence and all such acts that could exacerbate tensions resulting in further loss of innocent lives and violations of human rights.

An important issue that had vitiated the atmosphere had been the establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Indian trusted that Israel would respect the overwhelming sentiment of the international community for a freeze on all settlement activity. India considered the Saudi Arabian proposal to be a positive step and also fully supported UN Security Council resolution 1397, which was a positive step to rebuild confidence and restart the negotiating process. India also joined the international community's call for an immediate easing of restrictions on the Palestinians.

NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said his country deplored the intensified and disproportionate use of military force and repression by the Israeli occupying forces in the Palestinian territories, which demonstrated an increasing disregard for human life and human dignity in total defiance of the international community's appeals for restraint. Israel's acknowledged practice of selective assassinations of Palestinian activists and the ongoing construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza was a great concern to Indonesia. Israel was called on to heed the Special Rapporteur's recommendations, and those outlined in the report of the High Commissioner. These recommendations advocated the deployment of a high-profile monitoring or peacekeeping presence in the territories as indispensable in order to reduce the violence, enforce respect for human rights and create conditions conducive to the resumption of negotiations. The Commission must redouble its efforts to ensure that the Israeli Government respected the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.

Indonesia supported all diplomatic efforts made to resume the political dialogue and to revive the peace process. President Yasser Arafat played a pivotal role in any future peace negotiations.

MOHAMED-SALAH DEMBRI (Algeria) said that since the inscription of the agenda item on Israeli practices in 1968, the situation had never been as tragic as today. The numerous resolutions adopted, all condemning Israel, did not put an end to the occupation which today more than ever took the form of barbaric, blind and systematic state terrorism. Since the adoption by the Commission of the resolution 2001/7 last year, the situation of the Palestinian people had further deteriorated. No day passed without crimes committed by the occupying army; there were 30 to 40 victims daily, and intensified bombardment of civilian residential areas, refugee camps and infrastructure.

The Algerian delegation had heard with much attention and particular interest the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. It shared the totality of his conclusions and the recommendations, and encouraged him to continue his work. The delegation was particularly attached by the pertinence of his analysis of the situation in the region. The Commission should take note of the persistent refusal of Israel to respect its resolutions although that was not a surprise.

ALI MAHMOUD (Sudan) said that his delegation had examined carefully the report of the Special Rapporteur that listed daily violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel. Sudan hoped that the recommendations contained in the report would be fully implemented, including the deployment of international observers in the region. As usual, Israel did not respect international resolutions, especially those adopted by this very Commission. The killing of children, liquidating Palestinian leaders, bombings, closures, collective punishments, use of extreme force, and demolition of houses and farms were daily Israeli policies.

The international community must exert pressure on Israel so as to make it respect human rights and international humanitarian law. Sudan supported the outcome of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which reiterated the applicability of the Convention to the Palestinian territories. A solution to the conflict could be found only through negotiations and Israel must respect the will of the Palestinian people to establish their own State.

ABDULWAHAD ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) said it was surprising that, while Israel was continuing to kill women, children, and elderly persons, target Palestinian forces and symbols, demolish homes, uproot trees, bulldoze cultivated land, launch campaigns of arbitrary arrests and impose blockades on the Palestinian people and their leaders, the international community and the sponsors, defenders and advocates of peace were apparently oblivious to this humanitarian dimension and were incapable of taking a stand. Surely, it was enough to see the Israeli violations which had so far killed more than 1,000 Palestinians, wounded 30,000 others and destroyed homes and thousands of dunums of agricultural land, quite apart from the arbitrary aggressive practices involving mass arrests, even children.

The Israeli violations were grave and numerous. Although one of their theatres was the occupied Palestinian territory, it was important not to forget the true nature of the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights where the Syrian people were suffering under the yoke of occupation and were being denied their basic rights to freedom of movement, education and health. The Shahaa farms were still under Israeli control. The humiliation and torture of Lebanese citizens detained by Israel without trial constituted a violation of human rights, as did the mines left behind by Israel which had killed hundreds of civilians.

SAID MOHAMED EL-FIHANI (Bahrain) said that the violations in occupied Palestine had continued without sparing the Palestinian Authority. The right to freedom of movement had been restricted by the occupying army. The international community should call upon Israel to respect the relevant Geneva Conventions on humanitarian law on the protection of the civilian population in occupied territories. Despite the various resolutions calling for Israel to refrain from its practices, the occupying Israeli army had continued to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. It had also intensified the demolition of houses and infrastructure in order to weaken the economy of the people. The policy of force could not work. It only violated international humanitarian law and the human rights of the Palestinian people. The international community should support the peace initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdullah. In addition, humanitarian assistance should be provided for Palestinians. Bahrain was among the countries that was providing food and other materials to the Palestinian people.

ROLAND KOPTSRA (Togo) said that the situation in the occupied territories was alarming, especially with regard to human rights. The occupying power had not resolved to work towards the improvement of the lives of the Palestinians and other Arabs of the occupied territories. Since September 2000 the Israeli army had been using excessive force against the Palestinian civilian population, making their lives increasingly precarious.

Israel must comply with the rules of international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention whose applicability to the occupied Arab territories had been reaffirmed by competent UN bodies on numerous occasions. The establishment of settlements, the continued occupation, and the frustration were the root causes of the deteriorating situation. All parties concerned should contain tension and promote a culture of peace. It could only be hoped that the efforts by the international community would lead to a cease fire and to a resumption of peace talks.

MOHAMED BEN SALEM (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted with grave concern the deteriorating situation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, and condemned the continued violation of the human rights of Palestinians, especially those of Palestinian women and children. The African Group strongly condemned the waves of killings, assassinations and slaughter, collective punishments, restrictions of movement of Palestinian people and all the racist terrorist practices carried out by the Israeli Government as well as the barbarous war waged against the Palestinian people. The African Group condemned the Israeli Government for its policy of occupation which jeopardized the peace process and for its present escalation of military aggression and its unfair and stifling blockade against the deprived Palestinian people who resisted in order to free their occupied territory from the Israeli occupiers.

There was a pressing need to lift the restrictions on the movement of the Palestinian people and President Yasser Arafat. A just and durable peace could only be achieved if the human rights of the Palestinian people, including their inalienable right to self-determination, were respected.

MOMAR GUEYE (Senegal) reaffirmed his Government's solidarity with and support of President Yasser Arafat and the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people. Senegal remained concerned about the volatile situation in the occupied territories and by the events taking place due to the excessive use of force and the unbalanced military force. These conditions had resulted in many civilian victims and the violation of all international laws, especially the Geneva Conventions which protected civilian populations in times of war. In that regard, the report of the Special Rapporteur was exhaustive. Senegal encouraged him to continue his work in a constructive manner.

The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was also marked by the continuation of new settlements, the application of the use of collective punishment through the encircling of the territories, arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of detainees. Senegal expressed its deep concern about the situation facing President Arafat since 3 December. Any attempt against his physical or moral integrity would have incalculable consequences for the future of the region. Today, the creation of a democratic, peaceful and viable Palestinian State was the best guarantee for the security of Israel, which had the legitimate right to live in peace within internationally recognized boundaries.

SVERRE BERGH (Norway) said that his country was deeply shocked by the latest rounds of violence in the Middle Peace. Continued confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians had resulted in the tragic loss of far too many lives. Both parties had a legitimate right to security, but security for all could only be achieved through peaceful means. Norway reiterated its call for an end to all violence and hostilities. Both parties must refrain from all activities that could incite new violence. Both parties must take the necessary steps to restore confidence, re-establish dialogue and resume negotiations. There was no substitute for negotiations.

Extra-judicial executions were unacceptable and in violation of the rule of law. Similarly, recent attacks on ambulances and health personnel were in contravention of humanitarian norms. Innocent Palestinian civilians were being harmed by collective punishment. So far hundreds of Palestinian houses had been demolished and bombings had damaged important Palestinian institutions and infrastructure. Almost 50 per cent of the Palestinian people now lived below the poverty line and unemployment was increasing dramatically. Norway strongly condemned terrorist attacks by Palestinian armed groups and had repeatedly called on the Palestinian authorities to arrest known terrorists and to do more to stop these atrocities. The continuation of such abhorrent practices would only result in counter violence and more bloodshed. The Palestinian Authority could do more, and must do more, to stop these acts. Norway also condemned executions of alleged collaborators and the Palestinian Authority's seemingly lack of will to act against killings of alleged collaborators by Palestinian civilians. Every killing of a Palestinian or an Israeli must be fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

SAAD HUSSAIN (Iraq) said the Palestinian people were suffering from grave violations of all their human rights. After having been expelled by the Israeli occupier, the Israeli forces were bombarding the Palestinian people, uprooting farmlands, restricting movements, and most importantly killing innocent children and women. These were crimes of war that had been condemned repeatedly by the Commission. It was regrettable that the Israeli policy-makers were in fact benefiting from the post-September atmosphere. Israel was also using the notion of anti-Semitism as an alibi to do whatever it wanted. Any criticism or resistance to Israeli aggression was called anti-Semitism. The Palestinian people had the right to fight against occupation and all other forms of aggression for the return of their land and the return of their homes. The Commission was urged to pressurize the Israeli Government to fully withdraw from Arab occupied territories and allow the Palestinian people to implement heir inalienable right to self-determination.

SADIQ M .S. MARAFI (Kuwait) said the situation in the occupied territories had been deteriorating. Israel had not implemented the provisions of the Madrid agreement signed with Palestine. The report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and that of the Special Rapporteur had all attested to the deteriorating situation. The Commission should shoulder its responsibility by calling upon Israel to abide by UN resolutions. Israel had to put an end to all its practices and withdraw from the territories it occupied. Without the full implementation of United Nations resolutions, giving the Palestinian people their legitimate rights and independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, and a full Israeli withdrawal from Syrian and Lebanese territories, there could be no durable peace in the region.

ALI ASHRAF MOJTAHED SHABESTARI (Iran) said that since 28 September 2000, the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories had turned into a massacre scene. Gross human rights violations and ceaseless crimes against Palestinian people had become an everyday occurrence. The Israeli forces had continued their criminal acts of suppressing, terrorizing and killing innocent Palestinians, among them women and children. Since September, thousands of Palestinians had been killed and injured as a result of the excessive use of force by Israeli forces and as a result of Israeli state terrorism of selected assassinations and frequent rocket and air attacks against Palestinian towns. More than 200 of the Palestinians killed so far had been children, while over 7,000 had suffered injuries.

In addition, the occupying regime had continued to practice a wide range of illegal and inhuman measures against Palestinians such as collective punishment, constant incursions into Palestinian cities, house demolitions, and the closure of cities and towns. The Commission had adopted numerous resolutions and decisions on the question of human rights violations in the occupied Arab territories. Israel however had ignored all these resolutions and had not only continued its earlier illegal and inhuman practices, but had also escalated its aggression by launching atrociously brutal attacks against the Palestinian refugee camps and re-occupying Palestinian land.

FRANCOIS NORDMANN (Switzerland) said that what was being called for by the international community was the respect of international law. Switzerland deplored all the violations of international humanitarian law committed in Palestine. There was also a serious concern as to the lack of inquiries on human rights violations. This lack of information had contributed to the maintenance of a situation of violence and aggression. The international community had a responsibility to speak out against the indiscriminate and disproportionate violence against civilians. Stone throwing was not an act of war and must not be repressed. Switzerland appealed for the full respect of international humanitarian law and an end to arbitrary executions, and it urged both parties to fulfill their obligations. It was vital that Israel took responsibility and fulfilled its obligations as the occupying power. A Turkish and a Swiss citizen had recently been killed in the area and Switzerland called for a transparent inquiry into what had happened.

The role of the Commission was to remind members of the international community of the only way to achieve a just peace - through respect of the rule of law and international law, particularly in terms of the protection of civilians.

ABDELLAH OULD BABAKER ( the League of Arab States) said that the violations in occupied Palestine had reached an unbearable level. The violence was a unilateral war waged against the Palestinian people and against those living in refugee camps. Israel had said that it would negotiate but this was a pretext to expand its settlement programmes. In the meantime, Sharon continued his policy of terrorist practices and he had not been held accountable for his acts of 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. The international community had silently ignored the acts committed by him. The only solution to put an end to the violence perpetrated by Israel was its total withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine.


Rights of Reply

A Representative of Israel, speaking in right of reply, said that some speakers had urged both Israelis and Palestinians to end violations and return to the negotiating table. But the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Tunisia had placed the onus on Israel alone ignoring the role of the Palestinians. For violence to end, Arafat must call for an end to all violence, arrest terrorists and collect weapons. The OIC had challenged Israel to address the root causes. Israel had risen to the challenge. Former Prime Minister Barak had proposed to put an end to the conflict and address its root causes and open final negotiations with the Palestinians with a view to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians however chose to unleash the current wave of violence.

A Representative of Algeria, exercising his right of reply, said he wanted to clarify that the Commission must be based on history and not myth. The history of humanity needed to be recognized. The Balfour declaration had recognized a land for Jews, however the respect of the local people had also been recognized.





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