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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/HRC/6/SR.22
9 November 2007

Original: ENGLISH

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Sixth session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 22nd MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 28 September 2007, at 10 a.m.

President: Mr. COSTEA (Romania)


CONTENTS


/...

HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES (continued)



The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.


/...

HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES (continued)

Draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 (A/HRC/6/L.2)


83. Mr. KHAN (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Group of Arab States, said that the two fact-finding missions mandated under Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 had been unable to carry out their assigned tasks owing to difficulties in gaining access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The draft resolution requested the President of the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council at its next session on compliance by the occupying Power with the two resolutions. He hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

84. The PRESIDENT announced that there were three additional sponsors to the draft resolution. The programme budget implications of the draft resolution had been circulated to all members.

85. Mr. ROSHDY (Egypt) said the Council’s adoption of the draft resolution would be a vote of confidence for the Council’s integrity and credibility. The Council needed to send a strong signal to the Government of Israel that it would not tolerate the grave human rights violations that Israel was committing in Palestine.

86. Mr. LOGAR (Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the States members of the European Union that were members of the Council, said that the European Union had not supported Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 because they did not call on both parties to halt the violence. However, it was of vital importance that all States should cooperate fully with the Council. For that reason, the members of the European Union would not oppose the draft resolution.

87. Mr. ABU-KOASH (Observer for Palestine) said that, in the past few days, Israeli forces had killed 12 Palestinians and injured several others in a new attack on the occupied Gaza Strip, including Beit Hanoun. Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 had been ignored by Israel, which was the only State that did not agree that Council resolutions should be respected and implemented. He urged the Council to adopt the draft resolution without a vote.

88. Draft resolution A/HRC/6/L.2 was adopted.

Draft resolution on religious and cultural rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/6/L.4)


89. Mr. KHAN (Pakistan), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Group of Arab States, said that the Israeli actions were undermining the sanctity and inviolability of religious sites in Occupied East Jerusalem. The draft resolution called on Israel to allow Palestinian worshippers unfettered access to their religious sites. While the restrictions on access to holy sites affected not only Muslims but adherents of all other religions, in the current month of Ramadan, the denial of access to such sites was being felt most acutely by Muslims. The Council should adopt the draft resolution unanimously.

90. The PRESIDENT announced that there were two additional sponsors. The draft resolution had no programme budget implications.

91. Mr. LOGAR (Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the States members of the European Union that were members of the Council, called on all States to refrain from taking any measures that might hinder the full exercise of the right to freedom of religion by obstructing access of worshippers to holy sites. Such measures should not be discriminatory and should be motivated by the need to protect public safety or public order or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. The draft resolution did not accurately reflect the provisions of human rights law that allowed, in specific circumstances, limitations on the rights in question. Since the draft resolution ignored that fact as well as some aspects of the concrete security situation on the ground its language and demands were somewhat unbalanced and excessive. Moreover, the Council’s adoption of the draft resolution might have a negative effect on the ongoing discussions in UNESCO concerning the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The European Union urged all parties to continue to hold an open and effective dialogue on the question with a view to achieving a satisfactory consensus outcome in the appropriate United Nations forum. For those reasons, the European Union called for a vote on the draft resolution and would abstain in the vote.

92. Mr. ABU-KOASH (Observer for Palestine) said that in the current holy month of Ramadan, Palestinian worshippers wished to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine for Muslims. Israel had closed off the Occupied Palestinian Territory because of the Jewish holidays, blocking the access of Palestinian worshippers outside occupied Jerusalem. It was normal practice for Israel to prevent and limit access to Muslim and Christian holy sites in Palestine, particularly in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, during Muslim and Christian holy days.

93. At the request of the representative of Slovenia, a recorded vote was taken on draft resolution A/HRC/6/L.4.

In favour: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Zambia.

Against: Canada.

Abstaining: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


94. Draft resolution A/HRC/6/L.4 was adopted by 31 votes to 1, with 15 abstentions.

95. Mr. GRINIUS (Canada) said that Canada supported the principle that there should be substantive follow-up to the Council’s decisions. His delegation would have supported the resolutions adopted at the Council’s first and third special sessions if they had been more even-handed and objective. Canada was a staunch supporter of the right to freedom of religion, and agreed that Israel’s periodic restrictions on the access of Palestinian worshippers to holy sites should be consistent with international humanitarian and human rights law. However, the resolution that had just been adopted failed to acknowledge that, in some instances, limits on religious practices and access to religious sites could be adopted for security reasons. Canada had therefore voted against the draft resolution.

96. Ms. OLIVERA WEST (Mexico) said that her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution because Mexico believed that all persons should have free access to their places of worship, as well as freedom of movement. Walls between peoples were a tangible manifestation of the intolerance that sometimes occurred in the course of history; they were useless, since they ended up being torn down by inevitable exchanges among people. New walls would fall, but the psychological wounds inflicted by their construction would leave invisible walls of mistrust.

The meeting rose at 12.55 p.m.


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