Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
2 November 1993
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 7th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 4 February 1993, at 3 p.m.
Mr. ENNACUER (Tunisia)
: Mr. GARRETON (Chile)
Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (
The meeting was called to order at 3.45 p.m.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (agenda item 4) (
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 9)
, 18, 19 and 19/Add.1, E/CN.4/1992/12; A/47/412)
(Finland), speaking on behalf of the five Nordic countries, said that the Governments of those countries fully supported the peace process as the best means of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions. That process had yet to produce concrete results, but the talks it had initiated were in themselves an achievement, although currently at a critical stage. As the Foreign Ministers of the five Nordic countries had stated in a declaration at their recent meeting in Stockholm, the parties to the conflict should refrain, more than ever, from any measures which might undermine the peace process. The Foreign Ministers had also emphasized their strong repudiation of all forms of violence and terror, irrespective of the party responsible.
46. The Governments of the Nordic countries condemned the recent decision by the Israeli Government to deport more than 400 Palestinians from the occupied territories. Although Israel needed to protect and defend its citizens, that decision was not merely unacceptable from a humanitarian point of view and under international law, but was likely to constitute an obstacle to the peace process at a time when support and encouragement were called for. They noted recent decisions by the Israeli Government regarding the deported Palestinians, but urged the Israeli Government to comply with Security Council resolution
47. The Governments of the Nordic countries had emphasized the constructive role that could be played by non-regional participants in the multilateral aspect of the Middle East peace process. They welcomed the fact that the United Nations was accepted as a full participant in the multilateral working groups meeting within the peace process.
48. In their declaration at Stockholm, the Ministers of the Nordic countries had also underlined the importance of pursuing confidence-building measures in the peace process, such as the freezing of settlement activities by Israel. On the Arab side, a lifting of the trade boycott against Israel and foreign firms dealing with Israel would be an appropriate and timely measure.
49. Violence had once again intensified in recent months, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, detention without independent judicial examination continued to be widespread, as was the practice of collective punishment against Palestinians. Curfews were frequently imposed, making it very difficult for those affected to lead normal lives, and the practice of closing schools and universities had not ceased. The Governments of the Nordic countries remained seriously concerned at Israel's continued violations of human rights in the occupied territories.
50. They thus urged the Israeli Government to improve the human rights situation in the occupied territories, in the interests of improving the prospects for progress in the peace process. They also stressed that a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict would, inevitably, also entail a solution to the refugee problem.
51. In order to create a sense of mutual confidence and respect between the different parties to the conflict, acceptance by Israel of the
applicability in the occupied territories of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) was imperative, as was compliance with the commitments set forth in the International Covenants on Human Rights and those contained in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It was also of the utmost importance that all acts of terrorism should cease.
Mr. Garretón (Chile) took the Chair
(Observer, Organization of the Islamic Conference) said that his Organization was profoundly concerned at the constantly deteriorating human rights situation in the Arab occupied territories, as evidenced by a wide range of increasingly repressive measures. Tragically, the Palestinian people had yet to enjoy their inalienable rights, and in particular their right to self-determination and their freedom to embrace the principles of democracy. Indeed, there was a total disregard of legal norms and procedures at every level in the Arab occupied territories, with resulting violations of the most fundamental international legal standards.
54. The Israeli occupation had fundamentally affected the daily life of the Palestinians. Israel continued, and had indeed stepped up, its policies and practices of repression, dispossession, economic strangulation, the demolition of houses, closure of hospitals and schools, deportations and expulsions, detentions and killings and other physical and psychological pressures. Such acts violated the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law. In the face of such measures the Palestinians had no alternative but to continue with the intifada in their quest for freedom.
55. Despite their legitimate feeling of resentment at the long-standing and illegal occupation of their lands, and at the continuing repression of the population in the occupied territories, Arabs and Palestinians had agreed to participate in the initiative aimed at establishing peace in the Middle East; and the opening of the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991 had aroused great hopes among all peace-loving people. However, by its recent decision to expel more than 400 Palestinian citizens from their homes and drive them into the wilderness, Israel had once again demonstrated that it was not in favour of peace, and that it was an aggressive State which was constantly waging war against its Arab and Palestinian neighbours in the effort to achieve its expansionist aims.
56. The Bureau of the Sixth Islamic Summit, enlarged to include the Chairmen of the Standing Committees of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, had met at Dakar, Republic of Senegal, on 11 January 1993, and had strongly condemned the Israeli Government's decision to banish Palestinian citizens from their homeland. It had also strongly condemned Israel for having refused to implement Security Council resolution 799 (1992). The Meeting had taken the view that the serious escalation of inhuman Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories made it incumbent upon the international community to exert the necessary pressure to force Israel to repatriate the Palestinian deportees and to put an end to its oppressive practices in the occupied territories. The international community should also adopt the necessary measures to provide the Palestinian people in those territories with adequate protection, pursuant to the relevant international resolutions.
57. The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference had recently expressed the Organization's position regarding the Israeli Government's latest attempt to circumvent Security Council resolution 799 (1992). It took the view that the decision authorizing the return of only 100 deportees and maintaining 300 other Palestinian citizens in enforced exile reflected the persistent will of the Israeli Government to defy the international community, and constituted a thinly-veiled attempt to provide some legitimacy to the deportation decisions practised as a means of collective sanction against the Palestinian people by the authorities of the Israeli occupation. The only solution to the problem was the integral implementation of resolution 799 (1992) requiring the immediate and safe return of all the deportees so as to ensure the continuation of the peace process in the Middle East. The Security Council should act promptly and adopt all necessary measures to force Israel to implement that resolution.
58. The meeting of the Sixth Islamic Summit considered all Israeli settlements established in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories to be illegal and concluded that international guarantees should be provided to ensure their removal. It called upon the international community to exercise the necessary pressure to force Israel to discontinue settlements in the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories, including Al-Quds al-Sharif (Jerusalem), a practice which constituted a major obstacle to peace.
59. It had hailed the intifada in the occupied Palestinian territories and expressed its full solidarity with and support of the Palestinian people in its legitimate struggle to recover its inalienable national rights; reiterated that Jerusalem and Palestine constituted the essential issue of the Islamic Ummah and the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and declared that a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East could be achieved only if Israel withdrew completely from all the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, including Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan, South Lebanon and the Jordanian territories and if the Palestinian people was enabled to exercise its inalienable national rights, including its right to return, to self-determination and to the establishment of its own independent Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as the capital and under the leadership of its sole legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization.
(Observer for Turkey) said that his delegation was greatly disturbed by Israel's illegal deportation of 415 Palestinians from the occupied territories. The Government and people of his country firmly condemned that unwarranted action, which constituted a serious breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the relevant Security Council resolutions. Responding immediately to that illegal action, even before the adoption of Security Council resolution 799 (1992), his Government had publicly urged Israel to reverse its decision and allow the safe return of the deported Palestinians to their homes.
63. Israel must fulfil its State responsibilities under international agreements with regard to the treatment of Palestinians in the territories under its occupation and must stop violating their human rights. It must recognize the
application in the occupied territories of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The continued abuse of Palestinians and the violence in the occupied territories was likely to jeopardize the peace process, which offered an unprecedented opportunity for finding a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict.
64. Developments in recent months did not give cause for optimism. The settlement policy was still being pursued, albeit at a slower pace. Israeli security forces still resorted frequently to the excessive use of force. Collective punishment of the civilian population and restriction of movement were commonplace and had had an adverse impact on the economic and social situation of the population. His delegation urged the Israeli Government to refrain from such acts in order not to endanger the negotiation process.
65. The peace process in the Middle East should be based on Security Council resolutions
. Recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was the key to a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.
(Russian Federation) said that the past year had seen a number of positive developments in the Middle East situation. The peace process had begun, an important component of which had been a discussion of ways to ensure the human rights of all persons living in the region. The policy of the Israeli Government had changed on a number of points, in particular with regard to respect for human rights. That gave reason for optimism.
67. Unfortunately, the recent decision by the Israeli authorities to deport 415 Palestinians from the occupied territories had made the situation more complicated. Regardless of the motives behind the deportation decision, his delegation shared the view repeatedly expressed by other speakers that that act was a flagrant violation of the standards of international humanitarian law and the principles of civilized behaviour of States. Such a policy might well harm international efforts to reach a peaceful settlement in the region.
68. As co-Chairman of the peace process begun in Madrid, Russia was actively seeking a review of the deportation decision, and its support of Security Council resolution 799 (1992), condemning the Israeli action, should be seen in that light. His Government had also made a direct appeal to the Israeli authorities. The goal of Russian diplomacy was to bring about a normalization of the situation in the occupied territories and achieve greater flexibility on the part of those involved in the peace talks.
69. There were other examples of blatant violations of the human rights of the Arab population in the occupied territories. Torture, detention, arrest without trial and economic measures persisted in the Middle East. The practice of establishing settlements in the occupied territories had not stopped: that made the search for peace much more difficult.
70. Another aspect of the situation about which too little had been said in the Commission was the growth of extremism and terrorism. In that context, his delegation urged the Commission to pay close attention to the recent statement by the representative of Israel. It was no secret that certain organizations in the Middle East promoted an ideology aimed exclusively at the physical destruction not only of opponents but even of those who, although in the same camp, favoured dialogue and compromise. His Government firmly condemned the ideology and practice of terrorism; the Commission, too, must speak out against that phenomenon. That was particularly important at a time in which efforts were being made to give shape to the future order in the Middle East and in which the foundations for the principles of inter-State and intra-State relations were being laid. A determined and effective opposition to extremism was therefore necessary to prevent it from becoming State policy in the future.
71. His delegation was aware that there were forces on both sides that sought to undermine efforts to reach a settlement and that strove to perpetuate an atmosphere of mutual hostility. Every time progress was made, it triggered an often brutal response. But violence led only to more violence and merely escalated the conflict; a glaring example of that could unfortunately be found in the situation in the former republics of the Soviet Union.
72. His Government was convinced that the peace talks begun in Madrid constituted the only path to achieving a comprehensive and just settlement in the Middle East. Despite the difficulties that had arisen during the negotiations, neither side had exhausted the possibilities of showing flexibility. All participants must demonstrate a maximum of understanding for the concerns of others and must work to bring their positions closer together.
73. At an initial stage, the negotiations must create a solid basis for an agreement on the definitive status of the Palestinian refugees. Such an agreement must be based on Security Council resolution 242 (1967), the only way to cut the ground from under the feet of the extremists and to set the stage for constructive, rather than confrontational relations.
74. The resolutions adopted by the Commission must objectively reflect the true situation and must contribute to achieving normalization. They must be directed towards ensuring the human rights of all the people living in the region and must oppose all actions, regardless of their origin, that contradicted the principles of human rights.
75. When the situation in the Middle East was under consideration, it was impossible not to touch upon the question of the right to self-determination. Events in other regions had shown that the question of the right of peoples to self-determination was far from being resolved. The Russian Federation took the view that the traditional concepts regarding that problem needed a thorough revision to bring them into line with contemporary realities and the basic principles of law.
76. Many bloody conflicts that had recently emerged were being fought under the banner of the right to self-determination, which in some cases covered a drive for power and other selfish interests. Flagrant human rights violations were sometimes justified as part of the struggle for self-determination: he had in mind discrimination for reasons of nationality, religious intolerance, oppression of other cultures, ethnic cleansing and the like. When group interests took on the importance of a fetish, the basic rights of the individual were disregarded. On the other hand, the crushing of a group of people's aspirations to achieve a form of self-expression and self-organization could have tragic consequences.
77. In the view of his delegation, the time had come to undertake a broad and open discussion of all aspects of the right to self-determination. The Commission should make a contribution to such a debate. In particular, careful consideration must be given to the question of who was entitled to the right to self-determination. It was important to take a closer look at the content of the term and how it was related to other principles of international law.
78. There was a fairly widespread view that self-determination meant only the establishment of an independent state. Yet, in the contemporary world, there were many other forms of national self-expression.
79. It was essential to determine what the mechanism should be for the realization of the right to self-determination, who should participate and what the future role of the international community should be in monitoring such processes. It might be worth considering whether an international document should be drafted on the subject. In the absence of more precise and generally accepted criteria for exercising the right to self-determination, there would be no end to tragic conflictual situations.
80. His Government was convinced that one of the most important criteria should be the primacy of the rights and freedoms of the individual over the rights of the group. Collective interests must coincide with the protection of individual human rights. The exercise of the right to self-determination must also aim to improve the level of human rights protection.
81. Needless to say, the use of violent means to attain self-determination was unacceptable. All such questions must be resolved peacefully through negotiations on the basis of the generally accepted principles of international law. His delegation, which had listened with particular interest to the statement on that subject by the representative of the United States of America, was ready to continue a dialogue on the topic.
82. To conclude, his delegation had noted with pleasure that most of the documents needed had been available in Russian from the first day of the current session.
(Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of the Israeli entity had made no effort to address the question of human rights violations in the occupied territories, but had merely sought to divert the Commission's attention from the item under consideration and waste its time. He had deliberately ignored the concern expressed by other delegations concerning the deportations and had sought to portray the issue as a confrontation between the occupying authorities and fundamentalists.
95. That was a distortion of the truth, since the Palestinians concerned were taking a stand against the abhorrent reality of the Israeli occupation and the human rights violations they had suffered. Rather than condemning fundamentalism, the representative of the Israeli entity would do better to attempt to persuade his Government to end the repressive measures which inevitably led to extremism.
(Observer for Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that, as usual, the representative of Israel had falsified the facts and resorted to lies and deceit in an effort to mislead the Commission, most notably by referring to the occupied Palestinian territories as Judea and Samaria, disregarding the official title of the agenda item. The Chairman should, he thought, have intervened to correct that usage.
97. The representative of Israel had referred to General Assembly resolution
of 1947, in which the United Nations recommended the establishment of two separate States. He maintained that Israel had accepted that resolution whereas Palestine had not. He had failed to mention, however, that, following the wars of 1956 and 1967, Israel was currently occupying the whole territory of Palestine. If Israel truly wanted peace as it asserted, it must withdraw to the partition frontiers laid down in that resolution.
98. He also regretted that the representative of Israel should have insulted the intelligence of the Commission by invoking myths and legends regarding the alleged intention of Palestinians and Muslims to massacre the Jews, while neglecting to mention the actual situation in the occupied territories, where Israeli soldiers were daily killing Palestinian children.
99. The representative of Israel had also attempted to portray the deportations and confiscation of property as a reaction to terrorist activities. The truth was that the Palestinians were engaged in resistance to a foreign military occupation, which was a legitimate right of peoples under colonial domination, as recognized in various United Nations resolutions. To equate such actions with terrorism was tantamount to saying that European resistance to the Nazi occupying forces should also have been stigmatized as a terrorist activity.
(Observer for Algeria), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Israel had accused various countries, including his own, of being responsible for the grave situation prevailing in the occupied territories, and had condemned the death sentences recently imposed on 19 fundamentalists in Algeria, saying that Israel no longer applied the death penalty.
101. That was merely a hypocritical and irrelevant attempt to divert attention from the real issue, since Algeria and the other countries mentioned had nothing to do with the situation in Palestine. Israel should address itself to the Palestinian people, and in particular to its sole representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization.
102. Furthermore, Israel's contention that the United Nations had been a prisoner of an automatic Arab-Muslim majority for more than 40 years was not only offensive to the members of the international community, but also betrayed an ignorance of the principles which guided the work of the Organization.
103. His delegation reiterated its full solidarity with the struggles of the Palestinian people to regain its legitimate rights and for the Palestine Liberation Organization as its sole representative.
(Observer, League of Arab States), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the attack on Muslim and Arab States contained in the statement by the representative of Israel represented a violation of human rights. It was misguided of Israel to attempt to set itself up as the defender of Arab States against the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism. It would do better to provide protection for the Palestinians from the dangers of Jewish extremism.
105. The resolutions of the United Nations were adopted not by an Arab-Muslim majority but by a majority of all the Member States, which were not fooled by Israel's attempt to portray itself as an innocent victim of aggression. Furthermore, the fact that Israel was a democratic State did not mean it could be allowed to commit human rights violations with impunity.
106. He deplored the attempt to portray legitimate and necessary national resistance to a foreign occupying power as terrorism, and called upon Israel to provide details of the number and average age of the Palestinians killed in the occupied territories, as compared to the number of Israelis. That would reveal who the real terrorists were.
107. He welcomed, however, the reference by the representative of Israel to General Assembly resolution 181 (II) and urged comprehensive implementation of that resolution and all other relevant United Nations resolutions. Nevertheless, it was noteworthy that, since its creation, Israel had failed to comply with a single United Nations resolution.
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.