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Le Conseil des droits de l'homme poursuit son débat sur la situation des droits de l'homme dans les territoires arabes occupés - Communiqué de presse (extraits) (19 septembre 2008) Français
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Source: Human Rights Council
19 September 2008

Concludes Discussion on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories and on the Universal Periodic Review
18 September 2008

The Human Rights Council this afternoon started its general debate on the follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action after concluding its discussion on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories and on the Universal Periodic Review.


At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories which started this morning.

Speakers said they were deeply concerned about the violation of human rights in the Palestinian and other Occupied Arab Territories. They said Israel's building of settlements was against the law as was the building of the separation wall. Many speakers criticized Israel for not having implemented Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions. Palestine and Israel were encouraged to work towards a peaceful two-country solution.

The following countries took the floor on this issue: Morocco on behalf of the Arab Group, Egypt on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Bahrain, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Algeria, Yemen, Kuwait, Iran, Oman, Morocco, Sudan, Turkey and Tunisia.

The following non governmental organizations also spoke on the issue: International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Association for World Education, Association for World Education, United Nations Watch, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, Iranian Elite Research Center and International Association of Democratic Lawyers.


Continuation of General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that it had been extremely satisfying to listen to Archbishop Desmond Tutu this morning. Since its establishment, the Council had adopted several resolutions with regard to Israel's violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel had refused to implement any of the resolutions, undermining the credibility of the Council. It continued to do so, considering itself above the law. Israel continued to confiscate land in the Occupied Arab Territories. That was a clear violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel should end all settlement activities. The occupying power was continuing to build the racist separation wall, despite world condemnation. The Arab Group called for Israel to put an end to the siege. The Arab Group also called for the implementation by Israel of all international instruments and of its entire legal obligations towards the Arab population. The Council had to take measures to operationalize its decisions. The Arab Group called on the Council to send a clear message to Israel that it was not above legal law and that it could not shirk its obligations.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed serious concern about Israel's inhumane practices against Palestinian civilians. The report had confirmed that those practices had been unspeakable. The African Group was greatly agitated by the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and could not forget the suffering of the people in the Syrian Golan where Israel still denied them fundamental human rights.

Every time the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning Israel, it would be ignored by Israel, who would always find justification for its violations of international norms, standards and instruments. Today, the African Group was surprised by the silence of those who had spoken up and expressed their concern over grave violations of human rights everywhere in the world. The failure of the international community to oblige Israel to respect international law and regulations diminished any discussion about the violation of human rights in any other country. The Council had to decide if it was ready to address human rights violations free from double standards or if it would continue turning a blind eye to some situations and some perpetrators.

TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that the occupying power could not use collective punishment and reprisals against civilians. Also, the construction of the barrier around East Jerusalem and within the West Bank was contrary to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. The building of illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories was contrary to the Geneva Conventions and Israel's commitment under the road map and the Annapolis process. The situation in the occupied Syrian Golan was also deeply worrying. The Organization of the Islamic Conference called on the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take a lead role in ensuring the implementation of the Council's resolutions.

ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA (Bahrain) said that Bahrain firmly believed that peace was the only solution to settle the crisis. The approach adopted by the Human Rights Council, in adopting resolutions with regard to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, was a reflection of the Council's deep desire to improve the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel was fully responsible for the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Its activities constituted a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and of the rights of the Palestinian people. Land was being confiscated and settlements were being constantly built; Israel was changing the demographics of the region. The international community should move quickly in order to improve the situation in Palestine. Israel was called upon to implement all Human Rights Council decisions.

MURIEL BERSET (Switzerland) welcomed that the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza had been respected, as it contributed to the respect of human rights and increased the prospects of successful completion of the peace process. Switzerland called upon all the parties to respect the ceasefire and to take all necessary measures to prevent violations. Switzerland expressed its concern about the blockade of Gaza, where, coupled with the strike of doctors and teachers, the humanitarian situation was further aggravated. The increasing restrictions of the liberty of movement between Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermined the unity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Switzerland drew the Council's attention to the escalation of violence between Hamas and Fatah during the past months and expressed its concern about allegations of torture and ill-treatment. Switzerland called upon the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and in Gaza to respect their obligations under international law, in particular to investigate the allegations and bring perpetrators to justice.

Finally, Switzerland welcomed the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and expressed its hopes for tangible results. Only dialogue and a political solution could lead to the end of hostilities and to a durable protection of human rights.

ABDULWAHAB ABDULSALAM ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) said that a firm position of the international community was needed now. The situation in Palestine went beyond occupation; it was a violation of international humanitarian law. The International Court of Justice had confirmed the unlawfulness of the Israeli settlements. There could not be peace until the rights of the Palestinian people were restored. A concrete manifestation of political will was needed. The settlements in occupied Arab lands were not a fait accompli and should be punished. The Council should take the necessary measures to halt the construction of the settlements and the continuous violations of human rights.

BENNY YAN PIETER SIAHAAN (Indonesia) said that the struggle of the Palestinian people to establish a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital had always had Indonesia's support. Indonesia noted with dismay the current human rights situation in Palestine, the Syrian Golan and other Occupied Arab Territories. The report presented this morning by Archbishop Desmond Tutu had given a detailed and chilling account of the suffering endured by the victims and survivors of the massive shelling of a small community in 2006. The survivors of the attacks had been, since then, ruthlessly subjected to every indignity and denied the most basic care and compassion. These acts constituted the most blatant and grave violations of the victims' most fundamental human rights. They also attested to a complete and deliberate disregard of international and humanitarian law. Although the perpetrator had half admitted to some degree of responsibility by alleging a technical error, it had repeatedly dodged the obligation placed upon it by the Council to undertake a thorough investigation. The present cessation of hostilities in Gaza afforded an opportunity for the restoration of the rule of law.

SERGEY KONDRATIEV (Russian Federation) welcomed the ceasefire agreement, which it had consistently called for. The Russian Federation had also called for lifting of the blockade of Gaza and cessation of attacks on Israel. Israel and Palestine should refrain from activities that might jeopardize the bilateral negotiations. In that connection, the Russian Federation was concerned by the allegations that Israel's Minister of Interior had opened a bid for construction of hundreds of houses in Palestinian territories, and called for a complete freeze on that activity.

The Russian Federation welcomed the decision of the Government of Israel to release about 200 Palestinian prisoners as a good-will gesture, and noted it was an important step in solving the problems. However, it was still too early to talk about sustainable positive change. Building trust between Israel and Palestine would be the foundation for any negotiations. Overcoming the critical socio-economic situation in occupied Palestinian Territory and not allowing the chaos between various Palestinian groups was important and the Russian Federation would continue helping that process. Israel's refusal of access to the Fact-Finding Mission had created a dangerous precedent, which had negative implications for future missions and resolutions of the Human Rights Council. The Russian Federation expressed hope that the Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territory would receive Israel's permission to visit Palestinian territories.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said that the Israeli occupation impacted negatively on the Palestinian economy and was a grave human rights violation. Furthermore, the occupation was a grave threat to the right to self determination of the Palestinian people. Israel continued its refusal to implement any resolution by the Council or the General Assembly. The Council had to bring a halt to the situation of impunity by stressing the principle that impunity must be rejected.

IBRAHIM SAIED MOHAMED AL-ADOOFI (Yemen) said that discussing human rights continued to be ineffective, especially since the Palestinian and Syrian people were still under occupation. Occupation was the main cause for the suffering of the Palestinians. Israel was solely responsible for the deterioration of conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel was continuing to carry out attacks and to build settlements and the separation wall. The occupying power continued to build settlements, illegally and in complete violation of international law, United Nations decisions and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Yemen appealed to the Council to bring the Israeli Government under pressure to put an end to the siege. Israel had also denied entry for humanitarian relief to Gaza; that was a cause of concern as it might lead to a humanitarian tragedy.

NAJEEB AL BADER (Kuwait) said that the restrictions imposed by the occupying power violated the human rights of the Palestinian People. Collective punishment of civilian populations was prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. The right to self determination was a fundamental human right and was the only guarantee to peace and security of the Palestinian People.

The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had further deteriorated; Palestinian civilians had to be protected and all actions that violated international law and international humanitarian law had to be stopped. The prisoners had to be released from the prisons of the occupying power. Kuwait also called on Israel to put an end to practices against the population of the Syrian Golan and to take into consideration recommendations of different international bodies, including the International Court of Justice.

HAMID BAIEDINEJAD (Iran) said that despite numerous resolutions by the international community through the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, Palestinian people were still deprived of exercising their right to self determination on their own homeland. Expansion of settlements, increasing checkpoints, demolition of houses, extrajudicial killings, imprisonment of innocent people and use of torture had characterized the occupation of Palestine for many years and had featured regularly in reports of international human rights mechanisms. Iran called upon the international community, and particularly the Human Rights Council, to take all necessary means to put an immediate end to the continuation of atrocities against the innocent people of Palestine in the Occupied Territories.

MOHAMED SAUD AL-RAWAHI (Oman) observed that the Human Rights Council, since its establishment, had adopted a number of resolutions regarding the Occupied Arab Territories. And Israel had continued to disregard the resolutions, and continued to terrorize women and children. These were systematic and organized violations against the Palestinians. The decisions of the Council had to be implemented. The international community and the Human Rights Council had to take all necessary measures to protect the Palestinian people and to ensure the implementation of the Council's resolutions by Israel.

ABDELMOUNAIM EL FAROUQ (Morocco) said that the human rights situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories had been an important item on the agenda of the Human Rights Council for a very long time. The arbitrary measures taken daily by Israel presented a blatant violation of international undertakings and institutions. The example of the High-Level Mission was the evidence of that. The Human Rights Council was now requested to take all necessary measures to ensure its decisions would be implemented and to put an end to the disastrous humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

Morocco condemned the constant difficulties and harassment of the Palestinian population by Israel and the demographic changes Israel was making were in clear violation of international law. Morocco and the King Hassan VI supported all international initiatives aimed at building of comprehensive peace that ensure a sovereign Palestinian State in peace and security and in cooperation with all the people in the region.

ZEHOR HASSAN SID AHMED MOHAMMED (Sudan) said that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories was very serious. Israel was continuing to build its separation wall and settlements which were a blatant violation of the human right to housing and other rights. They needed to work together to overcome double standards and put a stop to those activities. The international community had to join efforts to respect the rights of the Palestinians to self determination and to found their own State with Jerusalem as its capital.

ASLIGUL UGDUL (Turkey) said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was at the core of all other problems in the region. All were aware that a durable peace in the Middle East would no be possible without solving that conflict. The international community had demonstrated a strong will in support of the Annapolis peace process. The success of the resumed process would largely depend on the parties acting with common sense and moderation. Turkey welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the recent release of Palestinian detainees by Israel. That constituted an important step in building confidence between the parties. The ongoing talks had to continue, until they produced a concrete outcome.

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) said that the human rights situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories should be the priority for the Human Rights Council, given its importance and the fact that human rights violations highlighted brutal practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The situation had worsened under the unjust Israeli occupation. The occupying power continued to confiscate buildings and impose fait accompli, in violation of international law. The wall constituted the separation of communities and ignored the opinion of the International Court of Justice.

Tunisia called on all people of good will to ensure Israel's respect for its obligations and to ensure the release of prisoners. Lasting peace that guaranteed a sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital was the only solution. The Council had to ensure that Israel abided by the relevant resolutions.

KAREN FRANCIS, of the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, said that they had no choice but to condemn those who imposed their will on others. Were they really willing to allow history to condemn them for yet another inaction, another failure, to stand up and say, “no more”? The present day Holocaust of the Palestinian people, their dignity and their struggle would not be cancelled, as the Jewish Holocaust was not, from history. The Council had to fulfil its universal humanitarian obligation.

DAVID LITTMAN, of the Association for World Education, recalled that the United Nations General Assembly had proclaimed 2009 as the International Year of Reconciliation. In doing so, it had stressed that “dialogue among opponents from positions of respect and tolerance was an essential element of peace and reconciliation”. Gaza, under the administration of Hamas, was a classical example of a divided society: the division between Gaza and the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, Gaza and Egypt and Gaza and the wider world. In order to have a respectful dialogue among opponents, certain barriers had to be removed. The future of Gaza was unclear as it might be united to the West Bank or could become an independent State. An important symbol of a willingness to enter into a reconciliation process and serious negotiations would be the renunciation of the Hamas Charter, which refused all negotiations and peace agreements and called for the destruction of the State of Israel.

SHABARINATH NAIR, of North-South XXI, said those were troubled times in Palestine and Palestinians had suffered human rights violations for as long as the United Nations had existed. North-South XXI commended the High-Level Fact-Finding Mission for the courage displayed in the report that presented the evidence of the suffering of the people. It was hoped that that would be an example to all States in the Council and to all Special Procedure mandate-holders.

North-South XXI emphasized the consequences of Israel's responsibility for violations of international law and welcomed the recommendation that included reparations to families and the injured communities. Those measures included steps to ensure such violations did not occur in the future, redressing the underlying illegal situation of occupation and denial of the right to self determination and the interdiction to all other States to refrain from recognizing any of the effects of Israel's illegal actions against the Palestinians.

HILLEL NEUER, of United Nations Watch, expressed support for the peace process in the Middle East. At this session, the human rights situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories was a single agenda item. The Secretary-General had said that he was disappointed that the Human Rights Council had singled out countries as targets, and yet this topic continued to single out one State. United Nations Watch said that this method was not working and it was time to heed the Secretary-General's call. Also, this approach had so far led to one-sided-resolutions against Israel. That had not been working either. Incitement should not be used in this forum. Earlier on, a parallel had been drawn between the situation of the Palestinians and crimes of the Nazis. That should not be accepted.

KLAUS NETTER, of B'nai B'rith International, speaking on behalf of Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations, expressed disappointment that item seven (human rights situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories) was part of each and every session of the Council. It had been their understanding that this would not be necessarily the case. The discussions under this agenda item were repetitive in the sense that speaker after speaker accused Israel of all conceivable human rights violations, without any reference to human rights violations committed by Palestinians. Some reference to positive developments on the ground seemed to escape the attention of most speakers, such as the recent Israeli-Palestinian security and economic cooperation at the local level in Jenin.

MARYAM SAFARI, of the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, noting the progress made in the development of the concepts of international peace and security and the instruments and bodies dealing with grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, drew the attention of international community to the silence of the international organizations towards confronting past and present crimes that had taken place in the Occupied Territories. Why had this age-old crisis remained unresolved? The international peace and security order was sufficiently functional. The whole international community was called upon to condemn the gross and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law of the residents of the Occupied Territories and to take steps towards putting an end to the widespread killings in the Gaza Strip and to come to the assistance of the victims of those crimes. The Human Rights Council and the Muslims of the region had to pay more attention to the terrible situation in the Gaza Strip.

LEILA ENAYATI, of the Iranian Elite Research Center, said that it knew that the Human Rights Council tried hard to prevent these tragedies from happening, but now that the situation in Gaza had become so critical, what was to be done? Could anything be done to prevent people from dying? When they saw the conditions of the children of Gaza, they could not just remain indifferent. What could they do in these bitter times to send the children of Gaza a gift of love and friendship?

RAPHAEL BENARROSH, of International Association of Democratic Lawyers, in a joint statement with Union of Arab Jurists, said that the report of the events in Beit Hanoun proved Israel's violations. Israel was not occupying Gaza anymore, but it had transformed it into a prison to which it held the key. People could not even move out of Gaza to get basic healthcare. The result was a true danger of a humanitarian disaster. That was contrary to international law. It was a violation of human rights. Israel's occupation had to be halted, as it had to be in the other occupied Arab territories. The idea of East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital had to be brought about. The international community had unforgivably delayed the consideration of the problem and had to mobilize and act in order to ensure peace.


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