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


Commission on the Status of Women 
Forty-eighth Session   
6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)
WOM/1438
3 March 2004

DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS, PEACE PROCESS REQUIRE WOMEN’S EQUAL PARTICIPATION TO SUCCEED, WOMEN’S COMMISSION TOLD

Hears from More Than 50 Speakers in Continued Debate


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Background

The Commission on the Status of Women met today to continue the general debate of its forty-eighth session.  For information on the current session, see Press Release WOM/1435 of 1 March.

Statements

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NADYA RASHEED, Observer for Palestine, said that the living conditions of Palestinian women had drastically declined and the humanitarian and socio-economic crisis had reached unprecedented levels.  Like many women throughout the world, Palestinian women were fighting inequality and discrimination within their own society in order to advance their standing.  However, Palestinian women must also struggle to achieve even the most basic levels of freedom, peace and prosperity in the face of the harsh reality of the ongoing Israeli occupation.  When Israel’s oppressive policies continued to deliberately deny Palestinian women of their most basic rights, the advancement of women was not only difficult, but virtually impossible.

It was Palestinian women and children who had borne a special and enduring burden resulting from the occupation, she said.  The tragic and unique situation of Palestinian women required that concrete steps be taken by the international community, particularly the Commission, to appropriately address its main cause – Israel’s oppressive actions and policies.  It was her hope that the next time she came before the Commission, she would be able to speak of positive developments – real improvement, real advancement and real empowerment for all Palestinian women.  For that to occur, the Israeli crimes and actions being committed against the Palestinian people must end.  The establishment of a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, would surely grant Palestinian women the rights that they had yearned for throughout the long years of oppression and subjugation.

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Rights of Reply

Israel’s representative said he was sorry that the Observer for Palestine had wasted the Commission’s time to focus on narrow political concerns relating to women, for which they placed the total blame on Israel.  He also regretted that the Secretary-General’s report had failed to mention the many Israeli women who had been killed or wounded in terrorist attacks over the past year.  Terrorists had wreaked havoc on the fabric of Israeli society, but the country’s right to life did not seem to warrant mention.

Referring to specific individuals who had died terrible deaths in terrorist attacks, he noted that those individuals had also rated no mention in the Secretary-General’s report.  Because of those attacks, Israel had been forced to adopt cautionary security measures to defend its citizens.  The Palestinian territories had deliberately targeted women, children and other vulnerable people.  Palestinian women had been forced to become suicide bombers to repent for their sins or to increase their status in society.  Did Israeli women have no right to live out their lives without threat from such terrorists?

The Observer for Palestine said that the question of Palestine had been on the agenda of the United Nations since its inception.  Also, the issue of Palestinian women had been on the agenda of the Commission for the past 20 years.  The statement she had delivered this afternoon was not an exaggeration of the situation, but rather an understatement.  It was true that Palestinian women had suffered under Israeli occupation.  She had only conveyed the hard facts, the unfortunate reality of the situation of Palestinian women under Israeli occupation.  Why was the concept of security only applicable to Israel?  Did not Palestinians also have the right to human security?  For 36 years, the Palestinian people, especially women, had been oppressed by the occupying Power.  The Palestinian leadership had repeatedly condemned suicide bombings and violent acts that inflicted suffering on innocent civilians.

The representative of Israel said it was important to note that when Israel took action to relieve the economic situation of the Palestinians, it was met by another suicide attack.  Moreover, the number of Palestinian women mobilized by different organizations was constantly growing due to the widespread belief that Israel showed more leniency towards women.  How long would preposterous allegations be presented to the Commission?  How many more innocent Israelis must die before the international community condemned Palestinian terrorism?


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