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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-fifth General Assembly
Fourth Committee
18th Meeting (AM)
GA/SPD/197
7 November 2000


FOURTH COMMITTEE CONCLUDES CONSIDERATION OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE’S

REPORT ON ISRAELI PRACTICES IN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Speakers Highlight Importance of Controlling Recent Violence,
Reviving Peace Process, Problems Created by Israel’s Settlement Policy



The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning concluded it consideration of the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, with speakers highlighting, among other issues, the importance of controlling recent violence, reviving the Middle East peace process and the problems created by Israel’s settlement policy.

The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said there was no alternative to the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements and the subsequent understanding between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations must be revived. Only peace could end Palestinian frustration and despair, while guaranteeing Israel’s security. Israel’s settlements policy, however, was at the heart of the difficulties facing the peace process. Settlement construction infringed upon Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Despite the commitments entered into by the Israeli Government, many theoretically frozen settlements sites had actually been expanded.

The representative of Bangladesh pointed out that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories had always been a source of tension to the peoples of those areas. During the last year, the Israeli Government had issued 3,200 permits for settlement, more than the number issued in 1998. Israel encouraged Jewish settlement on the one hand, while actively demolishing Palestinian houses on the other.

Saudi Arabia’s representative said that Israel’s illogical restrictions on the Palestinians contrasted with its easy issuance of permits for new Israeli settlements intended to change the demographic character of the area and hold back the peace process. Settlers terrorized the population and showed Israel’s real objective, which was to colonize the region. Many other policies also ran counter to international law and conventions.

Israel’s representative said his country had made a serious effort to tackle the most sensitive issues -- refugees, borders and settlements –- hoping to reach a breakthrough. But instead of responding at the peace table, the Palestinians had simply overturned it, inciting the recent violence in an attempt to coerce Israel into making further concessions and calculating that the more blood shed, the better. In response, Israel had shown great restraint, using force only in life-threatening situations. He rejected the Special Committee’s report and said that body’s activities were counterproductive to the pursuit of peace, aggravating the situation through one-sided propaganda and repeating a litany of irrelevant accusations against Israel.

The representative of Ghana said that negative forces in Israel were regrouping, while the younger generation in Palestine was growing increasingly impatient. No sacrifice should, therefore, be too great for success in the peace process. He totally condemned the cycle of violence perpetrated by extremist elements in both Israel and Palestine whose primary objective was to scuttle any progress towards peace. Terrorist acts in particular were totally unacceptable as a means of seeking redress for any grievances.

Other speakers this morning were the representatives of Senegal, Malaysia, Kuwait, Iran, Tunisia, Oman, Brunei Darussalam and Bahrain.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Egypt and Syria, as well as the observer for Palestine.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 8 November, to hear a statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Members will then be able to pose questions. The Committee is then expected to begin its general exchange of views on the comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects at 3 p.m. tomorrow.


Committee Work Programme

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to conclude its general debate on Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.
(For background, see press release of 6 November 2000.)

The Committee also had before it five related draft resolutions, and seven texts relating to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Draft resolutions on UNRWA

By a draft resolution on assistance to Palestine refugees (document A/C.4/55/L.10), the General Assembly would reiterate its deep concern regarding the Agency's persisting critical financial situation as outlined in the report of the Commissioner-General. It would note with profound concern that the continuing shortfall in the Agency's finances has a significant negative influence on the living conditions of the Palestine refugees most in need and that it, therefore, has possible consequences for the peace process.

By other terms, the Assembly would call upon all donors, as a matter of urgency, to make the most generous efforts possible to meet UNRWA's anticipated needs, including the remaining costs of moving its headquarters to Gaza, and encourage contributing governments to contribute regularly and to consider increasing their contributions.

Also by that draft, the Assembly would urge all Member States to extend and expedite aid and assistance with a view to the economic and social development of the Palestinian people and the occupied territory. It would welcome the consultative process between the Agency, host governments, the Palestinian Authority and donors on management reforms. The Assembly would also welcome the increased cooperation between the Agency and international and regional organizations, States and relevant agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which is essential to enhancing UNRWA'S contributions towards improved conditions for the refugees and thereby the social stability of the occupied territory.

By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would note with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in its resolution 194 (III), has not yet been effected, and also that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine has been unable to find a means of achieving progress in the matter. It would request the Commission to continue its efforts towards implementation.

The General Assembly would, by further terms, note the significant success of the Agency's Peace Implementation Programme since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, and stress the importance that contributions to this Programme are not at the expense of the General Fund.

The draft's sponsors are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

By a draft on the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA (document A/C.4/55/L.11), the Assembly would request the Working Group to continue its efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General, to find a solution to the Agency's financial situation. It would welcome the new, unified budget structure for the 2000-2001 biennium, which can contribute significantly to improved budgetary transparency.

Also by that draft, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide the necessary services and assistance to the Working Group for the conduct of its work.

The draft is sponsored by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

A third text relates to persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (document A/C.4/55/L.12). By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the right of all persons displaced as a result of those hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. It would express the hope for an accelerated return of displaced people through the mechanism agreed upon by the parties in article XII of the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements.

Further, the Assembly would endorse, in the meanwhile, the efforts of the Commissioner-General to continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance, as a temporary measure, to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continued assistance as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities.

That draft's sponsors are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Palestine.

Another draft relates to offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees (document A/C.4/55/L.13). By its terms, the Assembly would strongly appeal to all States, specialized agencies and NGOs to augment the special allocations for grants and scholarships to Palestine refugees, in addition to their contributions to the regular budget of the UNRWA. It would also request the Agency to act as the recipient and trustee for those special allocations and to award them to qualified Palestine refugee candidates.

Also by that text, the Assembly would appeal to all States, specialized agencies and the United Nations University to contribute generously to the Palestinian universities in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, including, in due course, the proposed University of Jerusalem "Al Quds" for Palestine refugees. The Assembly would also appeal to all States, specialized agencies and other international bodies to contribute generously towards the establishment of vocational training centres for Palestine refugees.

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine sponsor the text.

A draft on operations of UNRWA (document A/C.4/55/L.14) would have the Assembly call upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to abide scrupulously by its provisions.

Also by that draft, the Assembly would call once again upon the Government of Israel to compensate the Agency for damages to its property and facilities resulting from actions by the Israeli side. It would request the Commissioner-General to proceed with the issuance of identification cards for Palestine refugees and their descendants in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Further, the Assembly would note that the new context created by the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government by the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and subsequent implementation agreements has had major consequences for the activities of the Agency.

The sponsors of that draft are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

By the terms of a text on Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues (document A/C.4/55/L.15), the General Assembly would reaffirm that the Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity. The Assembly would urge the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of the refugees' properties and their revenues in the framework of the final status negotiations of the Middle East peace process.

The sponsors of that draft are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

A final draft on UNRWA relates to the University of Jerusalem "Al Quds" for Palestine refugees (document A/C.4/55/L.16). By its terms, the Assembly would emphasize the need to strengthen the educational system in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 5 June 1967, including Jerusalem, and specifically the need for the establishment of the proposed university.

The Assembly would call once more upon Israel to cooperate in the implementation of the present resolution and to remove the hindrances that it has put in the way of establishing the University of Jerusalem "Al Quds", by other terms of that text.

Its sponsors are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

Draft resolutions on Israeli Practices

The Committee also has before it a draft resolution on the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (document A/C.4/54/L.8). By the text, the General Assembly would demand that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate. It would deplore those policies and practices of Israel which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, as reflected in the reports of the Special Committee covering the reporting period.

By other terms, the Assembly would especially condemn the excessive use of force resulting in the last few weeks in more than 160 Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries.

The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

By a draft on applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilian persons during time of war (document A/C.4/55/L.18), the Assembly would reaffirm that the Convention is applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967. The Assembly would demand that Israel accept the Convention's de jure applicability in the occupied territories and that it comply scrupulously with its provisions.

Further, the Assembly would call upon all States parties to the Convention to exert all efforts to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel. It would reiterate the need for speedy implementation of the recommendations contained in resolutions ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997, ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997, ES-10/5 of 17 March 1998 and ES-10/6 of 9 February 1999 with regard to ensuring respect by Israel for the Convention's provisions.

That draft's sponsors are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

A third draft relates to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/C.4/55/L.19). By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and socio-economic development.

By other terms, the Assembly would demand complete cessation of the construction of the new settlement in Jabal Abu-Ghneim and of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan. It would stress the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 904 (1994), which called upon Israel to implement measures aimed at preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and called for measures to guarantee the safety of and protection of the Palestinian civilians. It would reiterate its call for the prevention of those illegal acts of violence by the settlers, particularly in light of recent developments.

Sponsoring that draft are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

By a text on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem (document A/C.4/55/L.20), the Assembly would demand that Israel cease all practices and actions which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. It would condemn all acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, resulting in injury and loss of human life. It would call upon Israel to accelerate the release of all remaining Palestinians arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, in line with agreements already reached, and call for complete respect by Israel of all fundamental freedoms of the Palestinian people.

Also, the Assembly would stress the need to preserve the territorial integrity of all the occupied Palestinian territory and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods within the Palestinian territory, into and from East Jerusalem, and to and from the outside world.

That draft's sponsors are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

The final text relates to the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/C.4/55/L.21). By its terms, the Assembly would call upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan. It would also deplore the violations by Israel of the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in time of war.

It would call upon Israel to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) in which the Council decided that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect.

The Assembly would also call upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and in particular to desist from the establishment of settlements.

By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would determine that all legislative and administrative actions purporting to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and have no legal effect. The Assembly would call upon Member States not to recognize any of those legislative or administrative measures and actions, by other terms of that text.

Its sponsors are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

Statements

YAW ODEI OSEI (Ghana) recalled the statement by his country’s Foreign Minister at the current General Assembly session noting that the obstacles to peace could not be removed without compromise, painful sacrifices, diplomacy and the strong desire for durable peace. The negative forces in Israel were regrouping, while the younger generation in Palestine was growing increasingly impatient. No sacrifice should, therefore, be too great for success.

Recent events had not only confirmed the worst fears, but also completely undermined the progress made in the negotiation process, he said. Regrettably, the Special Committee’s report was once again limited by the absence of the Israeli Government’s position, simply because the Special Committee had neither received its cooperation, nor had access to the occupied territories to obtain first hand information.

He expressed his country’s concern and total condemnation of the cycle of violence perpetrated by extremist elements in both Israel and Palestine, whose primary objective was to scuttle any progress towards peace. Terrorist acts in particular were totally unacceptable as a means of seeking redress for any grievances, achieving political ends or supporting a cause. Ghana welcomed the understanding reached between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, on the basis of the Sharm el-Sheikh understanding.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) recalled that in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, he had stated to the Security Council that the unexpected developments in the occupied territories threatened the peace process if they continued indefinitely. The peace process must be an irreversible strategic choice of the parties concerned.

He said the Palestinian people continued to be restricted, deprived and humiliated in their own territory, which had been occupied for the past 30 years. The international community, particularly the Security Council, should take steps to ensure that measures were taken to re-establish calm in the region. Israel must share the Secretary-General’s indefatigable efforts for peace.

Israel must respect Islamic holy places, he emphasized. It must also guarantee the property of Palestinians in the occupied territories and scrupulously observe international humanitarian standards, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. As long as Palestinian suffering and Israel’s illegal measures continued, the Special Committee should continue its essential mission until a just and lasting peace was established for all the countries in the region, including Israel.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) expressed appreciation for the work of the Special Committee and said that its report clearly indicated that the human rights situation of the Arabs living in the occupied territories had not improved during the period under review. He also expressed great concern that the continuing unstable situation would aggravate the plight of Arabs living under Israeli occupation.

He called on Israel to ease its brutal crackdown on the civilians who were venting their long-suppressed anger and frustration against the occupying power, and to make a serious effort to resuscitate the unraveling peace process. Israel, he said, must realize that it could not hope to enjoy peace as long as it refused to address the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people on the principles of land for peace, withdrawal from all occupied land and an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

In addition, he said that confidence could not be built on the continued suppression of the population. Until that was realized, the work of the Special Committee remained relevant. He called on Israel to cooperate with the work of the Committee by permitting its members to visit the occupied territories, and for the international community to take a strong stand on human rights in the occupied territories, based on the reports.

MANSOUR AYYAD AL-OTAIBI (Kuwait) said the current Israeli Government was adopting the same policies and practices pursued by the previous government, contrary to agreements reached with the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli authorities were pursuing their policy of judaizing Jerusalem through the clear and obvious practice of revoking the residency permits of the city’s Palestinian inhabitants.

He said that Israel’s economic blockade of the occupied territories had led to a deterioration in the economic and social situation of the people of those areas. That and other intransigent Israeli policies in those territories could be characterized as non-compliant with United Nations resolutions, which had all condemned the excessive recourse to force and demanded an international inquiry to determine responsibility for the violence.

MOHAMMAD HASAN FADAIFARD (Iran) expressed appreciation for the report of the Special Committee, which showed that Israel continued to commit numerous violations of international law in the occupied territories, including desecration of Islamic holy places, restriction of movement, construction and expansion of settlements, and unjustified detention.

In addition, he said, the excessive and indiscriminate use of force in recent weeks by the Israeli occupying army against Palestinian civilians was a gross violation of human rights. The tragic developments and the bloody campaign highlighted the need for the continuation of the Special Committee’s work. It was imperative, he said, that the occupying power implement the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the international community should intervene immediately to stop the Israeli armed forces brutal campaign against civilians.

AHMED AL-HARTHY (Saudi Arabia) expressed deep gratitude to the Special Committee for its efforts in producing the report. It was not surprising that the Committee was barred from access to the occupied territories. The serious violations of human rights there proved Israel’s intransigence. Isolation of Palestinian areas, assassinations of dozens of martyrs and thousands of wounded, reflected the bloody policies of Israel against people who wanted their independence.

The policies of oppression, he said, gave Israel free play with the lives of those people. Illogical restrictions on them contrasted with the easy issuance of permits for new Israeli settlements intended to change the demographic character of the area and hold back the peace process. Settlers terrorized the population and showed Israel’s real objective, which was to colonize the region. Many other policies also ran against international law and conventions.

Saudi Arabia supported all serious efforts for peace, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions strictly applied, he said. That included the principle of land for peace and total Israeli withdrawal from all occupied lands, which must result in a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The maintenance of the Special Committee was necessary until such a comprehensive peace was achieved.

MOHAMED SALAH TEKAYA (Tunisia) said Israel had continued to confiscate agricultural land in Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories to build settlements and bypass roads for the exclusive use of Israeli settlers. It had imposed restrictions on the expansion of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories and imposed laws and regulations affecting the rights of Palestinian and Syrian people in the occupied territories. Those laws were worded in such a way as to ensure Israel’s control over their lives and to enforce its domination over the territories.

Recent diplomatic efforts should lead to a radical change in Israeli policy, he said. The bloody events intended to strengthen Israeli control over Al-Haram Al-Sharif had led to the deaths of more than 160 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 1,000 people, many of them defenceless children who had been shot in the upper body, with the intention of crippling them permanently. The situation remained explosive and the tension and confrontation must be defused.

He said the international community must protect the Palestinians in accordance with international norms and instruments, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Unless a just resolution to the Palestinian question was found, particularly their right to self-determination on their own territory and with Jerusalem as the capital, there could be no lasting peace.

RIYADH YUSUF AL-RAISI (Oman) expressed appreciation to the Special Committee for a report that clearly reflected the oppressive practices of Israel against the people of the occupied territories. Restrictions on housing, water and movement of citizens, as well as the closing of transit points, various kinds of imprisonment and the appropriation of land were all flagrant violations of international conventions. Such violations had been going on since 1967. The members of the Special Committee were not even allowed to enter the territories to witness the plight of the occupied peoples themselves.

The United Nations, he said, must take the necessary measures to implement all its resolutions to end the current situation. If it did not, it risked losing its credibility. He called for an end to all repressive practices against the occupied people. It was impossible to believe that there could be peace in the region with Jerusalem still under Israeli control. He supported a peace that included a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

HADIJA HAJI IDRIS (Brunei Darussalam) said Israel’s policies and administrative measures had severely affected all aspects of the life of Palestinians, particularly their basic necessities. Israel still pursued policies of land confiscation and demolition of Palestinian houses. It was regrettable that Israel was continuing with its settlement expansion through the construction of additional housing units. Those activities were not only illegal, but also destructive to the peace process.

Expressing her country’s concern over Israel’s continuing ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners, she said that, in light of the worrying situation in the Middle East, her country would continue to support efforts towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace. That would only be possible if the parties concerned met the obligations outlined by the various United Nations resolutions recognizing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian State.

MUSTAFA CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) noted that foreign occupation, in itself a flagrant violation of human rights, was made even worse by prolonged occupation. Israel had continued to use violent force to suppress civil resistance, applying tactics that generated various forms of human rights violations. Actions by individuals continued to draw Israeli retaliation, supplemented by a well-planned campaign to demoralize the people of the occupied territories, particularly the Palestinians, and perpetuate the illegal occupation under various pretexts.

He said Israel continued with its policy of economic blockade and often imposed closures on the Palestinian territories, obstructing the movement of people and goods within the West Bank and Gaza, as well as between the self-rule areas and Israel. Further, Israel obstructed infrastructure projects associated with trade and other sectors of the economy. They were strangling the economy of the occupied territories and the self-rule area, with devastating effects on the lives of the inhabitants.

Pointing out that Israeli settlement in the occupied territories had always been a source of tension to the peoples of those areas, he said that during the last year, it had issued 3,200 permits for settlement, a higher number than those issued in 1998. Israel encouraged Jewish settlement on the one hand, while actively demolishing Palestinian houses on the other. In 1999, such actions had led to 131 people, including 68 children, losing their homes.

He said that instead of continuing the freeze on new settlements, rolling them back and eventually eliminating them, Israel continued to build new settlements, including at Jabal Abu-Ghneim in Arab-populated East Jerusalem. Its completion would fully encircle East Jerusalem with chains of settlements, which would eventually have a significant impact on the city’s demography. The international community had urged Israel to refrain from implementing its decision to expand Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries because such a plan would create a further Jewish majority in the city, disturbing the moratorium imposed by the Security Council.

FAISAL AL-ZAYANI (Bahrain) expressed appreciation for the reports of the Special Committee. He said that the situation of the occupied people had gotten worse in the past few weeks, resulting from Israel’s policy of settlement and annexation of territory that contravened the provisions of international conventions and resolutions. Recently, the United Nations had reiterated the call for Israel to abide by those resolutions, as well as the Geneva Convention on protection of civilians in time of war.

The victims, he said, had no way of legal redress and violence by settlers continued. The report stated that the relationship between settlers and Palestinians continued to be one of the most unfortunate aspects of the occupation, as well as pollution and closure of territories. In the Golan, moreover, the report said that Israeli and Judaization had increased.

The persistence of all those policies impeded efforts towards peace, he said. Global peace required the full implementation of all relevant resolutions and conventions. The principles of land for peace must be adhered to. The ordeal of the Arab people under occupation would not end until the occupation ended and the Palestinian people realized their aspiration for a State with Al-Quds as its capital.

DAVID ZOHAR (Israel) began by reiterating the position of Israel that the Special Committee was counterproductive to the pursuit of peace, which could only come through direct negotiation between the parties. He said the Special Committee instead poured salt on wounds with hostile rhetoric and wasted resources producing one-sided propaganda. In its report, it repeated a litany of irrelevant accusations against Israel, which remained unchanged after Palestinians began living under the Palestinian Authority.

In fact, he said, since most Palestinians today lived under Arab flags, complaints concerning human rights violations should be directed to the Palestinian Authority. He rejected the report and called for the Special Committee to be closed down and its “practices” against Israel ended. It could also be redirected to investigate the deplorable way Palestinians had been treated for half a century by Arab regimes in the Middle East.

At Camp David in July 2000, he said, Israel made serious initiatives concerning the most sensitive issues, such as Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements, hoping to reach the necessary breakthrough. But, instead of negotiating at the table, the Palestinians simply overturned it, inciting the recent violence in an attempt to coerce Israel into making further concessions, calculating that the more blood shed, the better. In responding, Israeli forces showed great restraint, using force only when necessary in life-threatening situations. Israel did adhere to the Fourth Geneva Convention on protection of civilians, and the International Committee of the Red Cross had access to the territories.

It was the destiny of Israelis and Palestinians to live next to one another, he said. Israel had demonstrated how far it would go for peace, and was ready to do whatever was necessary to achieve it. He expressed appreciation for all statements during the debate that encouraged peace, and hoped that Palestinians, and their supporters in the Arab and Moslem countries, would join Israel in the effort to reach it.

CHRISTOPHE BIGOT (France), on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, stressed that the tragedy in the occupied territories has demonstrated the fragility of the peace process. The spiral of violence threatened the peace process with irreparable damage. The Union was pleased that both parties understood the message and remained strongly committed to the peace process, which was the only way out of the current crisis.

The Sharm el-Sheikh agreements and the subsequent understanding between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres must be supported because there was no alternative, he said. Peace negotiations must resume because only peace could end Palestinian frustration and despair after 33 years of occupation and guarantee Israel’s security within its internationally recognized borders. The interim agreements must be respected in full.

Israel’s settlement policy was at the heart of the difficulties facing the peace process, he noted. It was feeding frustration among the Palestinians and creating useless frictions in the field. The practice infringed Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Unfortunately, settlement construction had continued at a spectacular rate in Jerusalem and other occupied territories.

He said that, despite the commitments entered into by the Israeli Government, 42 settlements had been built during the 1999 electoral campaign. Many of the theoretically frozen settlements had actually been expanded and settlers had occupied half of the settlements that had theoretically been evacuated. Official Israeli statistics showed an 81 per cent increase in the rate of construction in the first trimester of the year 2000. The aim was apparently to make permanent some settlements west of the green line, and, in some cases, to control water sources.

The Union felt that the Special Committee was not the best forum for dealing with the question of Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories. They should be dealt with in the context of the peace process. The Union reiterated its commitment to the peace process according to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and to the Madrid and Oslo agreements.

FEDA ABDELHADY-NASSER, observer for Palestine, exercising the right of reply, said the need for the Special Committee -- rejected by Israel -- was stated by her delegation and others yesterday. But it was most starkly illustrated by Israel’s daily violations of humanitarian law. That included violations of the Geneva Convention protecting civilians in times of war, which Israel, in its statement, claimed to adhere to. The Special Committee was needed to monitor violations of the human rights of an entire people. In addition, it was not true that most Palestinians lived under Arab flags; that was an evasion of responsibility. All occupied territory remains occupied. Israel was an illegal occupying Power, and from that all violations emanated. The representative of Israel refused to address that fact.

HOSSAM ZAKI (Egypt), exercising the right of reply, said that today’s statement by Israel was full of irony, and served as an example of the problems Israel posed. It claimed to want to live in peace, and then did everything possible to undermine it. And it refused to recognize its occupation of the territory of another people. Israel might say that the Palestinians were living under Arab flags, but, in so saying, it refused to admit that Israel could at any time strangle any Palestinian town or village, and often did. Everyone could follow what Israel had been doing for the past six weeks. He could not believe that a delegation could live with that lie. It was enough for him to see on television who was responsible for the violence. He reiterated that the Arab States believed that there was no alternative to peace, which could only be achieved by Israel withdrawing from all the occupied territories.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said it was natural for Israel to reject the Special Committee’s report and to call on Member States to vote against the relevant resolutions. Israel did not want the international community to have accurate, objective information and data about its crimes and wished to continue its killing and oppression of the Palestinians with impunity. Anyone interested in peace could not support that Israeli approach.

He said that while it was true that many Palestinians lived in Arab countries, they also lived in other countries all over the world. However, the representative of Israel had neglected to mention the root cause of their presence in those countries: the Israeli Government’s systematic policy, since 1948, based on forced expulsion and repression of Palestinians forced out of their homes and villages.

Regarding the Israeli delegate’s reference to the Declaration of the Millennium Summit, he said it underlined that the Palestinians must be able to return to their homes with dignity. Israel paid lip service to international law, international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions, while it had defied and publicly rejected them since 1948.

He stressed that the Arabs had opened their doors to peace. Let Israel implement Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), the principle of land-for-peace and withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories. That was the challenge.


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For information media - not an official record