Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
2 November 1993
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 9th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 5 February 1993, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. ENNACEUR (Tunisia)
Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine
The right of peoples to self-determination and its application to peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation
The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (agenda item 4)
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 9)
, 18, and 19 and Add.1, E/CN.4/1992/12; A/47/412)
(Brazil) said that, despite the slow progress made since the Madrid talks, her delegation believed that a diplomatic agreement could be reached and urged all parties to pursue the negotiations on the basis of compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, especially Security Council resolutions
, bearing in mind the right of all peoples of the region to live within secure and internationally recognized borders and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
2. Immediate confidence-building initiatives from all parties were vital if results were to be achieved and, in that connection, she welcomed the announcement of changes in the policy of establishing Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, a practice her delegation had always condemned.
3. However, the situation seemed to have deteriorated again and the Commission must, as a matter of urgency, address the question of the human rights and living conditions of the population of the occupied territories. The Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) was the appropriate legal framework for ensuring respect for basic human rights in the occupied territories and fostering goodwill and confidence between the parties.
4. Her delegation strongly condemned the recent deportation of Palestinians as a serious violation of human rights and urged Israel to comply with Security Council resolution
. It was also important that the international humanitarian agencies should be allowed to perform their work normally and in safety in the region and that all those in need of relief should be granted access to them.
5. Her delegation continued to believe that the right to self-determination was one of the cornerstones of justice and peace at the international level and had always lent its support to the United Nations resolutions on the subject. However, the relationship between self-determination and the realization of other human rights was a very complex one. History had shown that self-determination by itself did not necessarily guarantee the enjoyment of civil and political rights or of economic, social and cultural ones. In addition, the question of self-determination was becoming increasingly confused with the problems of minorities and, while it was clear that peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation had the inalienable right to self-determination, other situations required cautious scrutiny.
6. Her delegation agreed with the point of view expressed by Mr. Bide in his report on possible ways and means of facilitating the peaceful and constructive solution of problems involving minorities (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1992/37) that the existence of a unilateral right to self-determination was extremely doubtful and was overridden by the basic principle of territorial integrity, provided that the State in question abided by the principle of equal rights and possessed a Government representing the whole people without distinction as to race, creed or colour. It should not be forgotten, moreover, a multi-racial and multi-cultural society was richer in possibilities and creativity and that States which understood that fact were better able to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all segments of their population.
(Australia) said that her delegation believed that the promotion of self-determination was a fundamental activity of the United Nations, with particular reference to the process of decolonization to which the United Nations had made a major contribution and which was almost complete.
8. However, with the recent attainment of or return to independence by many States in Eastern and Central Europe, self-determination was posing new and difficult challenges to both the United Nations and the countries and peoples concerned. Her Government had applauded the courage, determination and commitment to democratic principles shown, in many instances, by those peoples and remained convinced that only by adherence to democratic principles, exercised in an atmosphere of tolerance and restraint, could the hard won gains of recent years are consolidated. The international community had much to do in helping resolve conflicts and ensuring that minority rights, territorial disputes and succession questions were settled peacefully and justly.
9. Her delegation fully supported the Middle East peace process initiated more than one year previously as an historic opportunity to bring a just and lasting peace to the region, and hoped that it would not be jeopardized by current events. She therefore welcomed the fact that Israel had agreed to a process which would eventually lead to compliance with Security Council resolution 799 (1992), while noting that that would not provide an early and complete solution and did not justify the original decision to deport the Palestinians.
10. Although it acknowledged Israel's security concerns, her Government had condemned that decision as a breach of international law and of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It called upon Israel to accept the
applicability of the Convention to the occupied territories and to refrain from violating its provisions. Her Government had also condemned the kidnapping and killing of an Israeli policeman that had led to the mass expulsions.
11. Her delegation's policy towards the Middle East was based on a total commitment to Israel's right to exist within secure and recognized boundaries, together with a recognition of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, including its right to an independent State.
12. For many years it had supported a comprehensive solution based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), calling for Israel's withdrawal from the territories occupied during the 1967 war and respect for the sovereignty of all the States in the region and their right to live in peace within secure boundaries. The high level of violence in the occupied territories by both sides was a source of great concern, particularly the large number of Palestinian children killed by the occupying forces in recent months.
(Mauritius) said that his Government attached great importance to human rights and his country was frequently cited as a role model of ethnic and religious tolerance, as well as of economic development and democratic practice.
19. The fact that so many United Nations reports on the conditions of the Palestinian people had been published indicated the magnitude of the problem but also clouded the basic issue. It was worth recalling therefore that, in November 1947, the United Nations had voted to divide the mandated territory of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab one. So far, however, only the Jewish State - Israel - had emerged. Israel had been carved out of the mandated territory of Palestine and it followed that what remained after the exercise was the integral territory of Palestine, which Israel could not annex or encroach upon so as to change its demographic composition. His delegation thus believed in the establishment of the Palestinian Government in its rightful home, which was Palestine. Once that was done, confidence-building measures leading to good neighbourly
relations were bound to emerge to consolidate the conditions of peace and security in the region.
Mr. ALFONSO MARTINEZ
37. While the Middle East peace process had brought new hope for a peaceful resolution of the region's problems, it had yet to achieve a substantial breakthrough. The right of Palestinian people to self-determination had not been realized and Israel still occupied the territories of the Arab countries.
38. Moreover, the recent deportation of a large number of Palestinians by Israel had once again created tension in the region. Israel had not yet completely changed its decision on the deportation and his delegation therefore called on the Israeli Government fully to implement Security Council resolution 799 (1993) and to take prompt steps to allow the deported Palestinians to return to their homeland.
(Observer for the United Arab Emirates) said that all the reports of the special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in the Occupied Territories since 1968 reflected a deterioration in the human rights situation in those territories. The Israeli authorities had stepped up the whole range of repressive practices, including murder, imprisonment, establishment of settlements, collective punishment and the use of torture in prisons and detention centres. In December 1992, they had expelled more than 400 Palestinian citizens from their homeland.
53. The systematic refusal by the Government of Israel to respect the principles of international law and its rejection of relevant resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly made it necessary for the international community to take the requisite steps to make Israel respect its international obligations. Israel's latest offer to return a number of the Palestinians it had expelled was incompatible with the relevant Security Council resolution.
54. With regard to the other occupied territories, attention should also be drawn to the Syrian Golan Heights where Israel continued to refuse to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions. It also refused to withdraw from southern Lebanon, where the population was subjected to daily harassment.
55. The Middle East process, which had begun at the Madrid Conference, was in the doldrums owing to Israel's obstinate refusal to apply the principle of the exchange of land for peace.
56. To conclude., he wished to draw attention to a declaration by the Gulf Cooperation council which called on the Security Council to exert pressure on the Israeli Government to revoke the deportation of the Palestinians. In the changed circumstances following the end of the cold war, it was essential that the Security Council should not appear to be adhering to double standards in its application of censure and sanctions.
(Senegal) said that, at the Commission's previous session, there had been a general awareness that the process initiated at Madrid with the aim of achieving a peaceful settlement to the Middle East conflict would be fraught with difficulty, and that conviction had been borne out by the recent deportation by the Israeli Government of 415 Palestinians from their own country. That act had revealed once again the strength of the rancours and ,prejudices dividing the parties to the conflict.
58. It was noteworthy that Israel had denied the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to the deportees, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and, in particular, of the Geneva Conventions to which Israel was itself a Party. The deportations had been condemned by the international community in general, as had Israel's refusal to permit emergency relief to the deportees. As the occupying Power, primary responsibility for the deportees lay with the Israeli Government, and its refusal to comply with its obligations constituted an infringement of the principles of international humanitarian law.
59. Over the years, there had been numerous reports by the United Nations, Governments and non-governmental organizations of cases of violations of human rights and of ill-treatment in the occupied Arab territories, and the time had come for the Commission to play its part in ending that spiral of violence and aggression. Israel must agree to the immediate repatriation of the 415 deported Palestinians, as required by Security Council .resolution 799 (1992). It must likewise put an end to all practices involving arbitrary detention, torture and executions. The international community must continue to press for the continuation of negotiations to achieve a lasting peace on the basis Of the right of all the parties to live in security in their own lands and on the principles of international law.
(Observer for Saudi Arabia) said that the situation of the inhabitants of the occupied Arab territories had, if anything, deteriorated since the Commission's previous session, as could be seen from the Secretary-General's note (E/CN.4/1993/13), which contained a long list of recent reports dealing with the conditions in which the citizens of the Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories were living under the Israeli occupation.
61. The reports gave evidence of the continuing intransigence of the Israeli authorities with regard to the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council and, In particular, Security Council resolution 799 (1992), which called for the repatriation of the 415 Palestinians deported in December 1992 from the occupied Arab territories.
62. In that connection, his delegation called on the international community to bring further pressure to bear on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, and expressed its support for the position taken by the Government of Lebanon in refusing to admit the deportees to its territory.
(observer for Morocco) said that, at a time when the Security Council and other United Nations bodies were playing a more active role in trying to maintain peace and security throughout the world, it was more than ever important that the United Nations should address itself to the Middle East, where a situation of crisis had prevailed for more than 40 years. Dozens of resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and other international organs had called for recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation organization, its sole and legitimate representative, and for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.
64. The peace process had been hampered by Israel's intransigence, and it was regrettable that the recent expulsion of more than 400 Palestinians by the Israeli authorities had halted the dialogue initiated between Arabs and Israelis, a dialogue which had given considerable grounds for hope and without which there could be no peace.
(observer for Algeria) said that the right of peoples to self-determination and the implementation of that right for people subjected to colonial or foreign occupation, had been a major preoccupation of the United Nations since the early 19609, and the Organization's successes in that regard were, perhaps its greatest historical contribution to freedom and social progress.
73. The Palestinians constituted the most conspicuous case of a people denied its right to self-determination, and the international community had unceasingly upheld its cause in the face of Zionist imperialism and arbitrary rule, whose ultimate aim was to annihilate the Palestinian people either through genocide or systematic expulsion from its homeland.
(International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples) said that his organization fully endorsed the views expressed by earlier speakers regarding the forcible expulsion of 415 Palestinians from the occupied Arab territories in December 1992.
78. As for the legal background to the case, he said that the Israeli High Court enjoyed wide powers, including the authority to annul legislation and to overturn decisions of the Executive. It was called upon to act as the guarantor of the individual's rights
the State, and it might be expected to defend any person under the jurisdiction of the State of Israel who had a complaint regarding an infringement of his rights by that State. From that standpoint, the unanimous decision of the seven presiding judges of the Supreme Court on 28 January 1993, which declared the Government's collective expulsion orders illegal but upheld the validity of the individual expulsion orders against 415 Palestinians, was a masterpiece of legal casuistry.
79. Admittedly, the Supreme Court had also stated that each of the deportees had a right of recourse to the military appeal courts and had ordered the Israeli authorities to make that recourse available to the deportees by enabling them to meet their lawyers. It seemed unlikely, however, that persons who had been arrested, imprisoned and expelled by the military authorities would recognize the legality of military courts and agree to appear before them. Since they had been deported as a group, they should be repatriated as a group.
80. It was clear from the High Court's decision that, although Israeli judicial authority was based on the principles of habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence, that did not apply to the Palestinians of the occupied territories. Israeli justice clearly operated on two levels, depending on whether the persons concerned were citizens of the Jewish State or Arab residents of the occupied territories. The Supreme Court's decision also supported the Government's refusal to comply with Security Council resolution 799 (1992) and thus purported to give Israeli law precedence over international law.
81. Expulsions had formed part of Israeli policy since 1948. The 415 persons expelled in December 1992 brought the overall total to more than 1,600 since the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, but that figure was only the tip of an enormous iceberg, the 3.5 million Palestinians living in exile.
82. Driven from their lands and from their homeland, those men, women and children had had the right to return since 11 December 1948 or, for those who had decided not to return, the right to compensation for their plundered property. That right, however, had repeatedly been rejected by all Israeli Governments. There would be no settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until Israel recognized the right of all Palestinians to return home.
83. By ruling out, as a condition for its taking part in the peace talks, the participation of the exiled Palestinians, i.e. the vast majority, Israel had succeeded in transforming the conflict into a simple question of the occupied territories. Thus, the issues of the right to return and of the future of the millions of Palestinians living in exile had been evaded.
84. The Palestinians had posed no preconditions for their participation in the peace negotiations, but the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) remained firm on the principle of the right to return of those exiled, while demonstrating flexibility with regard to its application.
85. By appropriating 60 per cent of the land, refusing autonomy, imposing "law and order" on the villages and towns, and denying the Palestinians in the occupied territories any opportunity to exploit water resources or to build up an autonomous economy, Israel showed that its long-term goal continued to be to integrate the West Bank and Gaza into the Hebrew State and to transform the occupied territories into Palestinian Bantustans, in which the people, in order to survive, had no other choice but to sell their labour in Israel or emigrate.
86. If the United Nations did not take firm action in response to the expulsion of the 415, the hopes for achieving peace would be frustrated and extremists in all camps encouraged. It was high time that the international community compelled the Israeli Government to cease manipulating international law.
(The World Christian Life Community) drew the Commission's attention to the legal obstacles faced by the Palestinians living under Israeli military rule as they sought to develop their economy: restrictions on freedom of movement of persons, on land use, on financial transactions and on the free flow of capital, a punitive taxation system, confiscation of land, reduction of access to water, limited access to external markets and a system of permits for industry and agriculture.
88. Since 5 June 1967, the military commanders for the West Bank and Gaza had legislative control over the lives of nearly 2 million Palestinians. Every change in the law reflected the interests of Israel, without any concern for the needs of the local population. Israel had not acknowledged the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories. The military commander was not accountable to the Israeli legislature or the Israeli High Court. Decisions were carried out selectively to demolish Palestinian homes, expel Palestinians, confiscate Palestinian land
and enforce curfews.
89. The fact that Israeli merchants had virtually unlimited access to markets in the occupied Palestinian territories while Palestinian access to Israeli markets was highly restricted showed the nature of the issue. The scarcity of employment opportunities reflected Israel's goal of undermining the existing infrastructure of the Palestinian economy. That policy included a prohibition on the licensing of Palestinian industrial enterprises and, until recently, encouragement of Palestinian employment in low-paying positions in Israel.
90. The lack of significant Palestinian manufacturing further deepened the dependency relationship between the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, because Palestinian consumers were forced to buy in Israel. Restrictions on the Palestinian financial sector precluded the offering of full banking services, thus inhibiting the growth of existing industries and undermining the development of new ones. Finally, Israeli control over the flow of persons, products and capital meant that the economy was completely dependent on Israeli institutions or individuals for conducting transactions with the outside world.
91. The instruments of economic development regulation currently in the hands of Israel, including matters of planning, taxation, economic regulation, finance, trade, water and land, must be shifted to Palestinian control. Public works must be undertaken to achieve national reconstruction and create jobs. Financial institutions must be restructured to fuel economic growth and give access to foreign markets. The current taxation policies, which were arbitrary in application and offered no representation, must be replaced.
92. Cancelling the security orders and the Emergency Regulations of 1945 and shifting control of legislative power to the Palestinians were prerequisites for meaningful development. The World Christian Life Community thus requested the Commission to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate the legal obstacles to economic development in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The meeting rose at 6.10 p.m