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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE FIRST PART (PUBLIC)* OF THE 20th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 28 March 2001, at 6 p.m.
later: Mr. DE MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal)
Statements made in exercise of the right of reply
77. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel) said that most of the statements heard under agenda item 8 had been noteworthy for their bias. Both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, were suffering on account of the desire of the Palestinian Authority to pursue a course of violence rather than to continue the negotiations begun at Camp David in the summer of 2000.
78. The question raised by the High Commissioner for Human Rights was entirely to the point: when would it all end? In his view, it was not an accumulation of speeches, reports and inequitable resolutions that would bring about a settlement. To achieve that, a number of conditions must be fulfilled: President Arafat must appeal to the population to end the intifada. He must fight terrorism, as he had undertaken to do in 1993 in an exchange of letters with Mr. Rabin. The Palestinian Authority must keep children out of the conflict. Lastly, the rhetoric must change and the language of peace must replace the language of violence. Negotiations must resume on issues that were still controversial. Those were the terms under which Israel would ease its pressure on the territories.
79. Encouraging reciprocal and simultaneous efforts would be much more effective than unilateral measures, simply because advocates of the former were a majority in the international community. The latter attitude merely encouraged violence and offered the Palestinians no incentive to return to the negotiating table.
80. As for the accusation by Lebanon that the Israeli authorities had failed to communicate to them a letter indicating the location of mines in the south of the country, he announced that he was in possession of an official document, submitted to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on 1 June 2000, containing full information concerning the location of mines in that region.
81. Mr. RAMBLAWI (Observer for Palestine) said that he had just received a communication informing him that, at the very moment when the Commission was holding its current meeting, the Israeli Defence Force was bombarding the cities of Gaza and Ramallah, using war planes, heavy artillery and rockets. The Palestinian territories were thus facing pitiless aggression. Scores of Palestinian civilians were being gunned down by Israeli bullets. Furthermore, the members of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission, who had visited the area, had seen for themselves the extent of the damage caused by those attacks using heavy weaponry.
82. Every minute brought a new Palestinian martyr. The Israeli occupation in itself already constituted an act of aggression under international law. To that occupation must now be added military attacks. The observer for Israel had asked for a continuation of the peace negotiations. But how was it possible to negotiate with an occupying Power? If it wanted peace, Israel must withdraw from all the Palestinian territories, as required by Security Council resolution 242 (1967). That was the condition on which a peace agreement could be reached. The revolt of the Palestinian people was the revolt of a people struggling against occupation, as was affirmed by the various United Nations resolutions.
83. As for the Camp David negotiations, everyone acknowledged that it was Prime Minister Ehud Barak who had failed to assume his responsibilities on that occasion. Now, Prime Minister Sharon declared that he did not consider himself bound by any agreement concluded with the Palestinians. Yet simultaneously the observer for Israel in the Commission on Human Rights invited the Palestinians to resume negotiations. That made no sense. The Commission on Human Rights must not allow itself to be taken in by such words.