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CDH examine la situation des droits de l'homme en Palestine et dans le Golan occupé, conclue le dialogue interactif avec la Mission d'établissement des faits - Communiqué de presse de UNOG Français
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Source: United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
29 September 2009



HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES
Concludes Interactive Dialogue with Fact-Finding Mission on Gaza Conflict
29 September 2009

The Human Rights Council this afternoon listened to a presentation by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on her first periodic report on the implementation of the Council resolution on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the Occupied Gaza Strip, and held a general debate on the situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories. The Council also concluded its interactive dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her report on the implementation of resolution S-9/2 on grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip, said that her report noted that significant prima facie evidence indicated the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law, as well as gross human rights violations, by both Israel and Hamas during the military operations that had been carried out from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. This situation was exacerbated by the blockade that the population of Gaza had endured in the months prior to Operation Cast Lead. She reiterated her call for an end to the blockade, and said that the recommendations of Justice Goldstone’s Fact-Finding Mission should be followed up by the Council.

Speaking as a concerned country, Palestine said the report of the High Commissioner was extremely important. The report contained a great deal of truth and facts on incidents of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. The recommendations, some of which were linked to acts by the Palestinian authorities, including Hamas, were appreciated, and they had been discussed within the Palestinian Authority as to how they could be implemented. The Council should support the recommendations made by the High Commissioner, and she should implement the respect of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to work towards this goal.

Also speaking as a concerned country, Syria said 41 years had passed since Israel had begun to reject and ignore the resolutions of international legality, and the situation was worsening as settlement activity continued. There were over 11,000 Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons, and there were an unidentified number of victims of forced disappearances, some of them who were buried in mass graves. The crime of detaining Syrians has been going on for over 25 years, leading to death in prison in some cases. Favouring settlements over peace would not bring security; it was necessary to strive for peace with sincerity.

Speakers in the general debate on the situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories expressed their concern about the situation of Palestinians, saying that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories had deteriorated. They condemned the blockade of the entry points to Gaza. The situation in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights also caused concern, as Israel expressed its total disregard of international human rights and international humanitarian law. Speakers said that they remained seriously concerned over the policy of disproportionate force and the killings of innocent civilians by Israel. Continued violations, like building settlements, the construction of the wall, the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and the imprisonment of Palestinians, including elected officials, were some examples of Israel’s excesses. The report by the High Commissioner contained crucial elements and recommendations which needed serious and immediate implementation by the occupying power.

Speaking in the general debate were representatives of Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group, Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Sweden on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Qatar, Indonesia, Bahrain, the Russian Federation, Cuba, Brazil, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Morocco, Algeria, Kuwait, Australia, Oman, Libya, the African Union, Malaysia, Yemen, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Richard Goldstone, Head of the Mission, in his concluding remarks, said he was grateful that the Mission was given the opportunity to respond to the questions that had been put to it, and concluded by what he considered could be seen as a truism: there could be no peace without justice.

In the interactive dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission, speakers said that the excellent, factual report by the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict showed the barbaric crimes and gross violations to which the Palestinian civilians were subjected to by the Occupying Israeli Forces. The international community had to bring to court war criminals and to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities. Impunity could only lead to further violations of international humanitarian law. Speakers also said that with this report the United Nations had rendered the Jewish people's exercise of the right to self-defence as a crime against humanity.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Kuwait, the League of Arab States, Oman, Norway, Iraq, Senegal, South Africa and Lichtenstein. Also speaking were representatives of Independent Commission for Human Rights-Palestine, Human Rights Watch, Hadassah, Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee, Hudson Institute, Al-Haq, Physician for Human Rights and Amnesty International.

When the Council reconvenes at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 September, it is scheduled to conclude its general debates on the situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories, and on human rights bodies and mechanisms, before turning to its general debates on the follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance. The Council will meet tomorrow in back-to-back meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Interactive Dialogue with Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

SADIQ MARAFI (Kuwait) said the excellent, factual report by the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict showed the barbaric crimes and gross violations to which the Palestinian civilians were subjected to by the Occupying Israeli Forces. Kuwait strongly condemned the Israeli aggression, which had deprived thousands of Palestinian civilians from their basic rights, and continued to be imposed on the Palestinian people. These barbaric crimes, which were committed by the Occupying Power and documented in the report, brought compelling evidence of the blatant crimes committed by Israel. It was not enough to consider them as mere violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, but they should be considered as more than that - thus, the Council faced a huge challenge - how to protect its raison d'être and create adequate measures to defend the Palestinians. The report must become a road map for the implementation of justice, not just by the Human Rights Council, but by the Security Council and the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies.

SAAD ALFARARGI (League of Arab States) said that Israel, with the latest war, had added yet another chapter to its record of gross violations of human rights of Palestinian people. The report prepared by the Mission headed by Justice Goldstone was one of the most important reports, and one which gave compelling evidence of Israel’s blatant disregard of the human rights of the Palestinian people. The Mission had used compelling evidence by interviewing many interviewees. In view of the gravity of the violations that amounted to war-crimes, the League of Arab States endorsed the recommendations made in the report. It also wished to invite the United Nations Secretary-General to submit the report to the Security Council and to the United Nations General Assembly. Here, the members of the Mission were to be commended as the report they had prepared was to become a landmark.

MOHAMED SAUD AL-RAWAHI (Oman) said that Oman appreciated the great efforts made by the Head of the Mission, Mr. Goldstone. This report contained facts that could not be denied; inhuman acts that had been committed by Israel. Oman welcomed the conclusions and recommendations in the report and called on the international community to bring to court war criminals and to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities. Impunity could only lead to further violations of international humanitarian law.

Mr. G. HEINES (Norway) said the report was thorough and well prepared, containing a substantial amount of documentation. The Mission had interpreted its mandate to include any actions by all parties that might have constituted violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law. This was important. However, it was unfortunate that the Mission encountered problems in obtaining documentation related to the effects of the shelling of Israeli civilians, as well as other information from Israeli Government sources, which could have shed more light on several issues raised in the report. The Fact-Finding Mission concluded that there was evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law both by Israel and Palestinian armed groups. The conclusions drawn up by the Mission required concrete action, and a credible system of investigation of the alleged violations should be established. The findings of the report left no doubt that there should be an adequate and efficient follow-up mechanism established by both parties to the conflict. Norway was deeply concerned that issues of protection of vulnerable groups in armed conflict and the role of humanitarian agencies and workers were increasingly under threat. International humanitarian law needed to be protected, defended and expanded.

HUSSEIN AL-ZUHAIRY (Iraq) said that the delegation of Iraq had taken note of the report prepared by the Fact-Finding Mission headed by Mr. Goldstone. Iraq applauded the courage of the Mission which had attempted to discover the truth on the Gaza Conflict. Iraq also had the feeling that the international community and the United Nations today were at important cross-roads and it urged them to move forward to establish credibility and justice. It was high time to set up follow-up mechanisms and prosecute those that had perpetrated war crimes. Further, civilians deserved the best possible protection and the Council must remain far from political discourses. Iraq also encouraged the implementation of the recommendations that had been made in the report as soon possible: the next step was to move from words to acts.

CHEIKH TIDIANE THIAM (Senegal) said that Senegal paid tribute to the members of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Their courage and moral integrity had allowed the Council to be in front of a well- documented report. The international community found itself informed as to the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by all parties; Israeli and Palestinian. The international community had to shoulder its responsibilities now. It had to refuse impunity. Senegal called upon the Human Rights Council to become united around a message of peace and solidarity for all the victims.

LUVUYO NDIMENI (South Africa) said South Africa acknowledged the outstanding manner in which the Fact-Finding Mission had discharged its mission under difficult circumstances. The sheer aggression and violations of human rights that occurred in the Gaza Strip were strongly condemned, leading as they did to the massive loss of human lives and the displacement of thousands of Palestinians. Israeli Defence Forces had destroyed Palestinian infrastructure, and this disregard of human rights and international humanitarian law continued, despite all efforts. Israel had refused to cooperate with the United Nations system for far too long, and this situation could not be allowed to continue. The Council was being called upon to act decisively on the systematic, gross and long-standing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, by following up the situation on an annual basis. It was incumbent upon all to suggest further course of action to the Council. The protection regime of international humanitarian law would be strengthened thereby.

DORIS FRICK (Liechtenstein) said that Liechtenstein was concerned about the findings of the report that indicated a systematic disrespect for the principle of deliberate attacks on civilian institutions. The conclusion that some of the acts committed may amount to crimes against humanity was particularly disturbing to Liechtenstein which therefore welcomed the report and hoped that it would enable this Council and, if necessary other inter-governmental bodies, to take the necessary measures to guarantee accountability for serious crimes. Liechtenstein was pleased that an understanding was reached to expand the scope of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Liechtenstein was of the view that this report was a step forward in the fight against impunity, which however did not mean that it agreed with everything contained in it. In particular, it did not believe that this Council should decide a wholesale endorsement of its recommendations. Further, at this point, there was no need to submit the report to the Secretary-General with a request to place it before the Security Council.

RANDA SINIORA, of the Independent Commission for Human Rights-Palestine, said that they had worked very closely with the Fact-Finding Mission and that they welcomed the findings and recommendation of the report. They reiterated the call of Palestinian victims that words should be translated into action and that recommendations in the report should be seriously pursued and implemented by the United Nations and the international community, otherwise they would be adding another report on top of all previous United Nations reports and resolutions without taking serious action to bring justice to victims. The United Nations and the international community as a whole had a moral and legal obligation to take action to make Israel accountable for the deliberate actions and war crimes it had committed.

JULIE DE RIVERO, of Human Rights Watch, said the report before the Council today presented three historic opportunities for the Council. The Council had the opportunity to endorse a serious and impartial report that documented the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by both parties to the conflict. It had the opportunity to endorse a report that bridged the gap between these violations and accountability. The report could steer the Council on a course towards a more principled approach to upholding international human rights in the region. All delegations should endorse the fact-finding report in its entirety. Delegations should help ensure accountability for violations of international law during this conflict for the sake of the broader cause of international accountability, as well as to obtain justice for the conflict's civilian victims.

MIRELA SIDERER, of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., in a joint statement with United Nations Watch, said that she was a gynaecologist living in southern Israel and had always treated both Israeli and Palestinian women. Mr. Goldstone had invited her in July to testify, and she had told him her story. On May 14 her life had changed forever as she was injured by a Palestinian missile, which hit her clinic. More than one hundred others were also injured. She had told Mr. Goldstone all this, and he sent a letter confirming that her testimony was an important element for the investigation. But now that she saw the report, she was shocked that her story was completely ignored. Why were there only two pages on Israeli civilian victims, such as herself, she asked, also enquiring why Mr. Goldstone did not tell her that Israel was judged guilty in advance. She further asked why Mr. Goldstein was silent when Gaza attacked her clinic.

JOSEPH SCHECHLA, of Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, said that they welcomed the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and encouraged the Human Rights Council to endorse the recommendations. The report documented violations of international law by Israeli security forces, Hamas and other armed groups. It catalogued a wide-ranging pattern of practices in Gaza that constituted war crimes and probable crimes against humanity. Impunity for the crimes exposed in the report had to come to an end and accountability had to take place if Earth was to endure as a civilized human habitat.

ANNE BAYERSKY, of Hudson Institute, said the Goldstone Mission would go down in the annals of history as the equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, repeating the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people, with "Israel deliberately terrorising a civilian population as part of a deliberate policy". With this report the United Nations had come full circle, rendering the Jewish people's exercise of the right to self-defence as a crime against humanity. The report was disguised as a human rights document, without recognising the terrorist intent of the enemy.

NEDA KISWANSON, of Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, said that numerous experts in the field of international law had unequivocally found that Israel and Palestinian armed groups had violated international humanitarian and human rights law during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Al-Haq further urged the Council to facilitate the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. If a tribunal was established, or should the case be referred to the International Criminal Court, it would have to be granted complete personal, territorial and subject-matter jurisdiction. Such action would enhance a body of law guaranteeing the maintenance of respect for international peace and security. The mandate of the Human Rights Council requested it to act, and Al-Haq urged it to guarantee that international law was henceforth respected and that impunity would not prevail.

AMIRAM GILL, of Physicians for Human Rights, said that during the past two decades they had brought together hundreds of Israeli and Palestinians, Jewish and Arab medical doctors to provide humanitarian assistance and advocate for human rights both in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As Israelis, they believed that it was essential that the Council clearly endorsed the recommendations of the report to ensure that Israel took the appropriate steps to conduct a proper domestic investigation according to international standards. The Israeli military investigations had been flawed, as the alleged perpetrator investigated itself and those who performed the investigation were subordinates to those who were suspected of committing crimes. Israel’s past record with investigating human rights violations showed that even an independent State Commission of Inquiry might not succeed in countering the deep culture of impunity which existed in Israel. It was time for Israel to seriously examine its actions in Gaza.

PETER SPLINTER, of Amnesty International, said the Fact-Finding Mission's authoritative report concluded that the Israeli armed forces and Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during the conflict. Amnesty International endorsed the recommendations of the Mission, which, if implemented, offered the best hope for justice for the victims and accountability for the perpetrators. The international community must seize the opportunity of the Mission's comprehensive report and recommendations to establish accountability, and end the impunity that had characterised the situation in Gaza. The Council should endorse the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission, review their implementation regularly, and submit the report to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. States that were party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions must also assume their individual responsibility for ensuring accountability, and should exercise universal jurisdiction by initiating criminal investigations in national courts where there was sufficient admissible evidence of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

RICHARD GOLDSTONE, Head of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, in concluding remarks, said that he only wished to give brief responses. The first one related to the fact that there had been three or more references in the context of the discussion of their report to Israel being guilty of genocide. Mr. Goldstone said that this saddened him as he thought this was a misuse of their report. Regarding Liechtenstein’s question, Mr. Goldstone said that the Mission’s recommendations were not an à la carte menu but were intended to be taken as a whole. As for the statement made by Dr. Siderer, Mr. Goldstone was upset that she felt humiliated by the report; she had been treated in no way different than other victims who had talked to the members of the Mission. Finally, with regard to the remark relating to him criticizing the Government of Israel despite his background, Mr. Goldstone said that he did not think that it was appropriate to dignify these unfortunate remarks with much attention. He nevertheless wished to suggest that it should not be seen as a subject of criticism that a Jew criticized the Government of Israel. Mr. Goldstone was grateful that the Mission was given the opportunity to respond to the questions that had been put to it, and concluded by what he considered could be seen as a truism: there could be no peace without justice.


Summary of Report of High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution S-9/1 on grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip (A/HRC/12/37), which contains sections on the legal framework; reported violations of international humanitarian law during the Gaza military operations (in January 2009); reported violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Gaza; and reported violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem. In conclusions, among others, the High Commissioner remains gravely concerned that Israel has not yet complied with the Advisory Opinion on the Wall of the International Court of Justice, and that the severe restrictions on movement of Palestinian persons in the West Bank continue. Significant prima facie evidence indicates that serious violations of international humanitarian law as well as gross human rights violations occurred during the military operations of 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, which were compounded by the blockade that the population of Gaza endured in the months prior to Operation Cast Lead and which continues. Across the wider Occupied Palestinian Territory, reported human rights violations during the reporting period include arbitrary detentions; torture and ill-treatment; extrajudicial executions; forced evictions and home demolitions; settlement expansion and related violence; as well as restrictions on freedom of movement and freedom of expression. While these violations are of deep concern in their own right, the nearly total impunity that persists for such violations is of grave concern, and constitutes a root cause for their persistence. Among specific recommendations, the High Commissioner reiterates her call for the immediate easing of restrictions, with a view to the complete lifting of the blockade on Gaza and other restrictions. All allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations during the Gaza military operations must also be investigated by credible, independent and transparent accountability mechanisms, taking fully into account international standards on due process of law. Additionally, Israel must stop its expansion of settlements, which are illegal.

Presentation by High Commissioner for Human Rights

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her periodic report on the implementation of resolution S-9/2, said that the report before the Council focused on some of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ key concerns and direct observations regarding the occupied Palestinian territory. Her report noted that significant prima facie evidence indicated the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law, as well as gross human rights violations, by both Israel and Hamas during the military operations that had been carried out from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. Such a situation was exacerbated by the blockade that the population of Gaza had endured in the months prior to Operation Cast Lead. The blockade continued to this day, and was now in its third year. The Gaza population’s freedom of movement was denied. A wall ran along all land borders with Israel and Egypt. At sea, Israeli gunboats prevented sailing beyond three nautical miles from the coastline. With very few exceptions, Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants were trapped.

In addition to the curtailment of Gazans’ freedom of movement, heavy import restrictions and near total prohibition of exports had severely impaired the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, of the Gaza population, said Ms. Pillay. She also referred to the unacceptable curtailment of Gazans’ right to work, their right of access to water, food, adequate housing and education, and their entitlement to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. These conditions impaired the life and dignity of the people of Gaza. Funds to remedy the situation were available. However, the blockade stopped the disbursement of the nearly five billion dollars pledged by donors. She reiterated her call for an end to the blockade. Further, she recommended in her report that all allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights violations during the Gaza military operations and their aftermath had to be thoroughly investigated. The recommendations of Justice Goldstone’s Fact-Finding Mission should be followed up by the Council. She also urged the Government of Israel to ensure that any investigation into this matter be conducted in a credible and independent manner and in conformity with all relevant international standards.

Turning to the situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Ms. Pillay said that the increasingly pressing international calls for a stop to settlements had thus far not been heeded. Violent acts by settlers against Palestinians continued, coupled with a near total impunity for such acts. The existence of the settlements represented severe obstacles for freedom of movement in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Her report also documented a series of human rights violations from the end of December 2008 until April 2009, including arbitrary detentions; torture and ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, as well as restrictions on freedom of expression. Since April, the dire situation of thousands of detainees and prisoners had not improved. Israel currently held approximately 8,000 Palestinians in detention under conditions that contravened international human rights and humanitarian law. In Gaza, the de facto administration held an estimated one hundred political detainees in unknown locations. Allegations of torture and degrading treatment of detainees held in centres under the control of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel needed to be investigated. “The prevailing impunity for human rights violations in the Middle East conflict must end”, she said. Such impunity encouraged and engendered the perpetuation of abuse.

Statements by Concerned Countries

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was extremely important, and Palestine appreciated the efforts made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and in Palestine. The report contained a great deal of truth and facts on incidents of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. The recommendations, some of which were linked to the acts of the Palestinian Authorities, as well as of Hamas, were appreciated, and they had been discussed within the Palestinian Authority as to how they could be implemented. The Prime Minister had issued instructions for all Palestinians to work in the context of international law and international humanitarian law. Each and every stakeholder and party should assume his or her responsibilities. The violations were extremely serious, and had been documented: there was a blockade that also created violations. A disaster, a catastrophe was what was being seen in Palestine, and it was time for international law to help solve the situation, and the international community should help in this regard. Jurisprudence on the Separation Wall was there and had been recognised by all. Here, the Council was assisting Israel rather than Palestine, as its negligence served to strengthen Israel. Those who supported Israel were only helping them to deny the existence of Palestine, which wished for an independent State that would respect human rights. Palestine wished to turn the page, and not to dwell on the past. The Council should support the recommendations made by the High Commissioner, and she should implement the respect of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to work towards this goal.

FAYSAL KHABBAZ HAMOUI (Syria), speaking as a concerned country, said that Syria would like to thank the High Commissioner for Human Rights for her report. Syria hoped that in the future the mandate would be expanded to include violations of the human rights of the people of the Syrian Golan. Forty-one years had passed since Israel had begun to reject and ignore the resolutions of international legality, and the situation was worsening as settlement activity continued. There were over 11,000 Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons, and there were an unidentified number of victims of forced disappearances, some of them who were buried in mass graves. As for the Occupied Syrian Golan, the whole world had heard of new decisions that were issued by the occupying authorities every other day; these were decisions that could not even be implemented in medieval days. Further, the crime of detaining Syrians has been going on for over 25 years, leading to death in prison in some cases. It was time for Israel to realize that such acts did not make Syrians or Palestinians give up. Favoring settlements over peace would not bring security; it was necessary to strive for peace with sincerity.

General Debate on Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

ABDELWAHEB JEMAL (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the Arab Group welcomed and thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for her report regarding human rights violations against the Palestinian people and called upon the Council to adopt the recommendations made in her report. The Arab Group expressed their concern about the situation of Palestinians and at the fact that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories had deteriorated. There was a deliberate policy of refusal by Israel to abide by international legitimacy, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, which applied to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli Military had not spared civilians and had not distinguished between the elderly, children and combats. These occupation practices could not be accepted; they presented a challenge to the national Palestinian Authority. The Arab Group also condemned the blockade of the entry points to Gaza. This was a violation of the Geneva Conventions, as well as the right to education and health, amongst others. The Arab Group reaffirmed the necessity of lifting the blockade against Gaza and to put an end to all violations. The Arab Group called on the international community to carry its responsibilities fully to support the State of Palestine and to condemn the Judaisation of Jerusalem. The just and comprehensive solution of the Palestinian question was through the establishment of the Palestinian State and the return of the Palestinian refugees.

MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group was deeply concerned about the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Over the years, the heads of Government of members of the African Union had been consistent in their calls for total support for the leaders of the Occupied Territories, and had decried Israel's lack of compliance and recognition of the various United Nations resolutions in this area. The serious deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of ongoing unlawful policies and practices was causing further concern. Israel was obliged to respect the human rights of all in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The situation in the Occupied Golan Heights also caused concern, as Israel expressed its total disregard of international human rights and international humanitarian law. Incidents of violations of international humanitarian law during military operations in Gaza had been reported, as well as in the West Bank. The recommendations in the report of the High Commissioner, including lifting the blockade and investigating all reports of violations of human rights, were therefore supported, and the Human Rights Council resolutions relating to this issue should all be implemented and applied.

HANS DAHLGREN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union conveyed its deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In light of the urgency to seek a durable solution to the crisis, the European Union urged the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel to enter into serious peace negotiations as soon as possible. The European Union also reiterated the need for a political solution with an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, comprising the West Bank and Gaza, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel. A durable solution to the Gaza Conflict had to be achieved through the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860, and the European Union called for a complete stop to all violence. As for the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the European Union was committed to assess the report and its recommendations seriously. Further, the Council should ensure appropriate follow-up, in particular by assessing whether appropriate investigations had been conducted by both sides. The European Union would remain actively engaged in negotiations on a resolution in the Human Rights Council on the follow-up to this report, as well as that of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that they remained seriously concerned over the policy of disproportionate force and the killings of innocent civilians by Israel, the occupying power. The Organization of the Islamic Conference members at a recent summit had highlighted that Israel’s colonialization measures, the transfer of more Israelis settlers to settlements and the construction of the wall constituted flagrant breaches of international humanitarian law. The Organization of the Islamic Conference Ministers had called on Israel to immediately cease all settlements and the construction of the wall. Israel’s violations of international law, human rights law and international humanitarian law were obvious and undeniable. Continued violations, like building settlements, the construction of the wall, the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and the imprisonment of Palestinians, including elected officials, were some examples of Israel’s excesses. The already critical humanitarian situation in Gaza had been further deteriorated by the attacks during the military occupation. The Organization of the Islamic Conference reiterated their call for the investment of efforts by the international community to address the political and humanitarian crisis and for an early conclusion of the peace process. The Organization of the Islamic Conference was also concerned about the human rights situation in the Syrian Occupied Golan and called for the implementation of Council resolution 7/30. The Organization of the Islamic Conference was hopeful that the international community would break the circle of impunity.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the situation of human rights in Palestine and other Occupied Palestinian Territories remained an issue of grave concern - the daily Israeli practices against the Arab population continued to violate internationally recognised human rights according to international human rights and international humanitarian law. The Non-Aligned Movement had condemned Israel's detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of women and children, and condemned the illegal Israeli settlement activities. The Non-Aligned Movement was gravely concerned at Israel's continued imposition of collective punishment on the Palestinian people by various illegal means and measures, and reiterated its demand that Israel immediately cease all violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law. There should be an immediate end of Israel's inhumane and unlawful closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which had resulted in the virtual imprisonment of the entire Palestinian civilian population. Israel should comply immediately and unconditionally with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Times of War. There was a need for urgent efforts to advance a Middle East peace process based on Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, and the principle of land for peace. There should be intensified and coordinated efforts by the international community to promote a genuine peace process as well as to ensure respect for international law, including international humanitarian law, the key to a peaceful solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole.

MANSOOR ABDULLA AL-SULAITIN (Qatar) said that Qatar welcomed the report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and also thanked the Fact-Finding Mission o the Gaza conflict presided over by Mr. Goldstone for their objective report. Qatar concluded that the two reports considered that the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip was the result of a systematic policy, and that the Israeli intervention among others aimed to destroy public and civilian buildings. Today, the concerned families were still living among the ruins of their homes, which violated the right to housing. The reports also confirmed that Israel was flouting the human rights principle of differentiating between civilian and military targets. The two reports should be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly and the International Criminal Court, which would help to compensate the victims, lift the blockade and carry out reconstruction works. Finally, Qatar also drew the attention of the Council and all parties present to the suffering of the Syrian people under occupation in the Syrian Golan Heights.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said that Indonesia remained deeply preoccupied by the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which warranted international attention and assistance. The situation had worsened still further after the occupying power had unleashed its brutal military campaign in the Gaza Strip this January. Meanwhile, Israel’s deliberate and illegal policy of settlements in the West Bank was constantly eroding that small territory in breach of international law. The report by the High Commissioner contained crucial elements and recommendations which needed serious and immediate implementation by the occupying power. The litany of Israeli illegal practices was well chronicled and Indonesia condemned the fact that arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, forced evictions and home demolitions, and settlement expansions continued unabated with total impunity. Indonesia was also deeply disturbed by the fate of prisoners and detainees in the Occupied Syrian Golan.

MUNA ABBAS RADHI (Bahrain) said the High Commissioner was thanked for her first periodic report on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in particular with regards to Israeli military violations. The report clearly reflected that the Israeli violations were continuing unabated, in particular the occupation of the Gaza Strip which deteriorated matters and had wide effects on a spectrum of economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights. The attacks of Israel on the Gaza Strip beginning last December for 22 days had impacted civilians, with non-discrimination between civilian and combatant targets, confirming many reports by Special Rapporteurs. Settlement activity was continuing and ongoing, and was a violation of a number of rules of international humanitarian law. Bahrain called upon the Occupying Power to abide by international legitimacy and abide by the recommendations of the High Commissioner, the Secretary-General and the General Assembly. Further violations were being committed lately. The Arab detainees and prisoners in Israeli prisons should be released. The international community and the Human Rights Council should provide protection to the Palestinian civilians and help them to exercise their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination.

ALEXEY GOLTYAEV (Russian Federation) said that the Russian Federation had consistently spoken out in favour of the need to continue full Palestinian-Israeli talks. It also wished to underscore that the question of Jerusalem should be settled in direct Palestinian-Israeli talks on the basis of international legal norms. Further, the Russian Federation was seriously concerned about the grave humanitarian situation that resulted from the long-term blockade on the Gaza Strip. Finally, the Russian Federation wished to mention that it had also taken part in the Sharm-El-Sheikh conference at the beginning of this year.

RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba) said that this general debate was taking place a mere hours after the presentation of the report by the Goldstone Fact-Finding Mission, which had shown the devastating effects of the Israeli military operation. The operation Cast Lead had aggravated even more the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity had to be brought to justice. The aggression within Gaza fitted within Israel’s terror and conquest policy. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip were deprived from enjoying the most basic human rights. Israel continued an intense construction of illegal settlements. All of this, while flouting the innumerable resolutions stemming from the General Assembly, Security Council and the Human Rights Council. In the occupied Syrian Golan, the Israel occupation continued to violate the human rights of Syrians. Cuba called on all States to engage in order to achieve a just, lasting and peaceful situation.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil), speaking also on behalf of India and South Africa, said the Fact-Finding Mission had presented a comprehensive report and that its conclusions and recommendations deserved the utmost attention and careful consideration of the Council, within a framework of open dialogue and cooperation. It was regrettable that the Mission chose to make the report public at a media event, instead of submitting it to the Council that had mandated the Mission in the first place. The importance of incorporating a cross-cutting approach of human rights in the other subjects under the responsibility of the United Nations, such as international peace and security and the promotion of sustainable development, should not be neglected. To this end, it was crucial that the international community pay attention to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from the perspective of human rights. The persisting conflict continued to impair efforts to protect and promote all fundamental rights in the region, causing enormous human suffering on all sides for more than 60 years. The parties involved directly, along with the international community, had a responsibility to address the human rights dimension and change the situation for the better. Too many opportunities had been missed, and the international community could not afford to miss a new one. Today the Human Rights Council was presented with a great opportunity to prove that it was capable of living up to the task of acting within the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the protection and promotion of all human rights.

ABDUL HANNAN (Bangladesh) said that the situation in the Occupied Arab Territories remained a permanent concern to Bangladesh. The Goldstone report presented this morning provided a comprehensive account of violations by Israeli authorities in the Occupied Territories. The people of Palestine were indeed in a dire situation due to Israel’s blockade, closures and confiscation of land. Despite all requests and calls to stop construction of settlements, these activities continued. The settlements were the single most important factor that would make future creation of a viable State of Palestine impossible. Poverty, hunger, disease and unemployment had risen in the occupied territories to alarming levels as a result of deliberate, unlawful policies by the occupying power, and the flickers of hope generated by the international community through peace initiatives quickly disappeared due to periodic and deliberate escalations of the conflict by Israel. It was often argued that these were actions of self-defense, which was however a travesty; there was no legal, political, moral or humane justification for such actions. Occupation of the Palestinian land and the Syrian Golan was at the heart of the Middle-East conflict, and this must end. Bangladesh firmly believed that a lasting and viable peace in the region could only be achieved through recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to have a viable State of their own.

BOUDEWIJN J. VAN EENENNAAM (Netherlands) said that the Netherlands felt that both reports warranted serious consideration by the Council and that it was essential that the Goldstone report be discussed in a balanced manner. The Netherlands wanted to avoid that the Council’s discussion frustrated the current peace process. The Netherlands had not been in favour of the Goldstone Mission, because they had felt that it was unbalanced. As to the report’s conclusions and recommendations, the Netherlands had come to the conclusion that the Mission had not been able to bring it back into balance. Further, none of the parties should shy away from individual accountability. The international community could possibly offer technical assistance.

ABDULWAHAB ABDULSALAM ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) said the report of the High Commissioner underscored the plight of the Palestinian people and the gross violations of human rights, corroborating the reports of the media and international instances, shedding light on the tragic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the never-ending violations of Palestinian rights. The policy of collective punishment, targeting civilians and targeting infrastructures all led to further deterioration of human rights and proved the Occupying Force did not apply human rights or international humanitarian law. The Palestinian people continued to suffer from the occupation of their land, displacement and dispossession of their rights. The Separation Wall and the continued blockade caused concern for the international community at large, as they ran counter to international legitimacy and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Wall and settlements were unlawful. Peace had not and would not be achieved as long as Israel continued a policy of massacres and indiscriminate shelling of civilians. Israel continued its policy of procrastination and outright rejection of all attempts to bring peace. The blockade should be lifted, and the entry points to the Gaza Strip opened. The Council should take all necessary measures to improve the situation of the Palestinian people and halt the construction of settlements and the eviction from and destruction of Palestinian homes.

ROBERTO VELLANO (Italy) said that the peace process in the Middle East needed to be set back in motion at the earliest possible date. Italy believed that the Human Rights Council should send a message to the parties that should first and foremost be consistent with the goal of creating the best possible conditions for the continuation of the peace process. The international community could not afford to loose the momentum again. They were not starting from zero as the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had resulted in a series of inalienable principles. Italy would continue to grant all its support to efforts in this direction.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) expressed their appreciation for the efforts made by the Council with regard to the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They hoped that this would bring to a stop the human rights violations by Israel and the unjust blockade of Gaza. His Majesty King Mohammed VI had firmly condemned the violent aggression which had targeted a group of Palestinians last Sunday. Morocco appealed to all international stakeholders to endeavour to offer good offices to re-launch the peace process. The ultimate goal was to achieve a just and lasting solution with regard to the Palestinian question.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said the efforts by the United Nations agencies and the Human Rights Council to expose the conditions suffered by the Palestinian people were appreciated. The report of the High Commissioner clearly showed once again that Israeli military operations did not distinguish between civilian and military combatants, and used illegal weapons, with grave and gross violations of international humanitarian law, requiring the attention of the Council, as this targeted civilian infrastructure, including United Nations buildings. This was in defiance of international human rights and international humanitarian law, and showed the disregard of the Occupying Power for international instruments and for human rights, including the right to self-determination. The Palestinian people should be allowed to create their own independent State with Jerusalem as its capital. The Human Rights Council should live up to its responsibilities, protect the rights of the Palestinian people, and oblige the Occupying Power to live up to its obligations.

SADIQ MARAFI (Kuwait) welcomed the first periodic report presented by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Gaza conflict. The situation of human rights violations continued to worsen in the occupied territories. The Human Rights Council was facing great challenges and needed to live up to its legal and moral responsibility to put an end to the massive ill-treatment of the Palestinian people by Israel. Grave violations had been committed and the Council needed to take the measures to implement the recommendations contained in the report. Further, Kuwait called on the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner to take the necessary measures to fulfill their mandate. Kuwait also wished to reassert that just and lasting peace could only be achieved with the full withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the creation of an independent Palestinian State.

CAROLINE MILLAR (Australia) said that Australia was deeply saddened by the tragic events of December-January in the Gaza Strip. Australia’s strong support for Israel’s right to self defence was clear. They remained also greatly concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Australia called on the parties to undertake the proposed investigation of allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. All efforts to secure a just and enduring peace in the Middle East had to be pursued as a matter of urgency. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians had to be based on a two-State solution. The Australian Government urged all parties to the ongoing conflict to work towards a just and enduring solution.

MOHAMED SAUD AL-RAWAHI (Oman) said the harsh humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people was not only due to the recent Israeli attack, it was in part due to a well-known pattern of aggression since 1967, with worsening conditions every day due to the actions of the Occupying Power, the closure of crossings and checkpoints, the construction of the Apartheid Wall, evictions and destruction of homes, and arbitrary detention. Even children were imprisoned by Israel. There were daily practices affecting the Palestinian people. Settlements continued to be constructed, and this showed Israel's disregard for international appeals to cease. Israel condoned or encouraged settlers who attacked Palestinian families and took over their homes. The violations of the rights of Palestinians were planned and aimed at evicting them all from their land. There was an endless list of violations, and the international community must take a stand to stop Israel from continuing its policies, and create an effective mechanism to end these policies. There could be no lasting peace without respect for human rights and without accountability.

ADEL SHALTUT (Libya) said that Libya had taken note with interest of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was extremely serious because of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Israeli occupation power, and the massacres committed showed that Israel did not adhere to international conventions and resolutions. Palestinian people were also deprived of many of their rights. Whilst thinking about the Palestinian people, Libya also viewed it necessary to recall the sad fate of inhabitants of the Occupied Syrian Golan.

KHADIJA RACHIDA MASRI (African Union) said that the Council met again this afternoon to consider the human rights situation in a part of the world where occupation had been ongoing since over a decade. In spite of the attitude adopted by the Israeli authorities to refuse cooperation, the Fact-Finding Mission had been able to conduct its investigation in the field and had established that grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations had been committed. The report of the High Commissioner was consistent with the conclusions of the Fact-Finding Mission. The Commission of the African Union had always supported the struggle of the Palestinian people, who were fully entitled to self-determination. The African Union believed that the recommendation of the Mission that called on the Security Council to establish an expert mechanism would be appropriate.

JOHAN ARIFF ABDUL RAZAK (Malaysia) said Malaysia was encouraged that through various international efforts and mechanisms, especially those initiated by and stemming from the decisions of the Council, sustained international focus and attention had been given to the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian and other Occupied Arab Territories. However, the international community could and should do more to not only address but ultimately put an end to the pain and suffering inflicted as a direct consequence of an illegal occupation that had gone on far too long. Malaysia unequivocally rejected the argument that in order for there to be lasting peace between Palestine and Israel, the future Palestinian State must cede all control of its security to Israel. Malaysia also wished to express grave and continuing concern that the Occupying Power continued to act with impunity and in clear violation of its own obligations under international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. The international community should come together to end impunity and ensure accountability on all sides.

FADHL AL-MAGHAFI (Yemen) said that Yemen would like to thank the High Commissioner for Human Rights for her excellent report. The Human Rights Council was also thanked for the efforts it had deployed. The results of the report proved that the observed human rights situation in Gaza was a result of the Israeli occupation. The report also stated that there was compelling evidence that grave violations of human rights had taken place during Operation Cast Led. Yemen would like to express its concern at the prevailing impunity which was a root cause for the continuing violation of human rights. Equal suffering as in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was also found in the Occupied Syrian Golan, hence Yemen’s deep concern unless real action was taken.

CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that they were gravely concerned at the further deterioration of human rights and the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other Arab territories as a result of the continued unlawful policies and practices of Israel. Thousands of Palestinians including women and children were under detention and imprisonment. Israeli settlement activities continued unabated and collective punishment on Palestinian civilians still persisted. They were also seriously concerned about Israeli illegal practices in the Occupied Syrian Golan. The systematic violations on the part of Israel constituted a flagrant breach of international human rights and humanitarian law. All these violations had to be halted immediately.

HAMID BAEIDI NEJAD (Iran) said the ongoing pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and other inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territories had been a constant feature of the contemporary history of the Middle East during the past decades. Numerous cases of violation of international human rights and humanitarian law had characterised the occupation of Palestine for decades, and had been featured regularly and extensively in the reports of international human rights mechanisms. The recent report by the Fact-Finding Mission as well as the report of the High Commissioner clearly depicted the atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinian people, which deserved particular attention by the international community. Iran strongly condemned the repeated breaches of humanitarian law against the Palestinian civilians, especially during the recent military aggressions on Gaza, which constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity in clear defiance of international law, and called upon the international community to act decisively and take all appropriate measures with a view to putting an immediate end to such atrocities. The root cause of all these atrocities lay within prolonged occupation and prevention of the Palestinian people from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination. As long as occupation continued, the sufferings of the Palestinians under occupation would continue, with multifaceted consequences. The international community and the Human Rights Council should act decisively and take all necessary measures with a view to putting an end to the violations committed against the innocent people in occupied Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories.

For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC09119E

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