Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
10 February 1993
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 3rd MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 2 February 1993, at 3 p.m.
Statement by the Prime Minister of Pakistan
Question of the violation of human rights in occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (
The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN
invited the Prime Minister of Pakistan to address the Commission.
Mr. NAWAZ SHARIF
7. Fundamental human rights had also been denied to the people of Palestine, as illustrated by the illegal deportation of 400 Palestinians, abandoned in an inhospitable terrain. The continued abuse of Palestinian human rights was likely to endanger the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (agenda item 4) (
(Austria) said that his Government had supported the regional peace conference for the Middle East from its very inception. A workable solution could be reached on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the principle of "land for peace", the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the right of all States in the region to exist within safe and secure boundaries.
44. His delegation trusted in the continuation of the dialogue thus initiated which was the only alternative to further violence and bloodshed. A solution in the Middle East could be achieved only if the human rights of the Palestinian people were truly respected by the occupying Power.
45. Unfortunately, the peace process had not yet brought about any real change in the unsatisfactory human rights situation in the occupied territories. Under the pretext of "maintaining security", the occupying Power violated the human rights of Palestinians, detaining them without any court procedures. Recent months had witnessed increased harassment of the families of wanted persons and a growing use of excessive force during military operations in the occupied territories. Clearly, that would not help the peace process.
46. His delegation appealed to the Israeli authorities to implement Security Council resolution
and to ensure the immediate and safe return to the occupied territories of all the deported Palestinians, for whose well-being Israel, as occupying Power, bore the primary responsibility, and not the Government of Lebanon. It was incomprehensible that Israel could justify forcing people to leave the occupied territories without even informing their families.
47. It was high time that Israel accepted the application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) to the occupied territories. That would be a real confidence-building measure and would enhance the peace process.
48. The new Israeli Government had cut back significantly on the demolition of houses, and it was to be hoped that that practice would cease completely. Unfortunately, information had been received about great destruction in the course of military operations; and his Government appealed to all parties to desist from further violence, which only aggravated the situation.
49. The Fourth Geneva Convention should in no way be seen as the only source for Israel's legal and moral obligations towards the Palestinian population in the occupied territories. The Convention provided only a minimum protection during armed conflicts. In times of peace, much more comprehensive standards for the protection of human rights should be applied.
50. One of the most important obligations of the occupying Power should be to promote the economic development of the Palestinian population. The closure of the borders and the imposition of curfews in the occupied territories deprived many Palestinian workers of their incomes and was detrimental to their overall economic situation. Access to water sources continued to be restricted. The development of the economy in the occupied territories would be an important contribution to the peace process.
51. There was also a pressing need for a rapid realization of forms of self-government that would give the Palestinian population a functioning legal and judicial system. His delegation was concerned at the many deficiencies in hospitals in the occupied territories, another field where self-government would have a positive impact.
52. The establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories still gave cause for concern. Settlements violated article 49, sixth paragraph, of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The announcement by the new Israeli Government that it would significantly diminish the number of new settlements it was prepared to support was a positive development.
(Canada) said that the past year had opened the possibility that a just and lasting peace could be within reach in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The welcome attitude of the new Israeli Government on the peace talks had awakened expectations, which would either be fulfilled or would result in deepening resentment: there was no returning to the status quo ante.
54. After 40 years of confrontation, the lesson should be clear that violence would never offer a solution to the conflict. In 1992, genuine efforts had been made to reduce the level of tension and to improve the life of the residents of the occupied territories, but her Government was still distressed at the continued serious human rights violations and the high incidence of violence.
55. For the first time in years, all universities in the occupied territories were open. Certain Palestinians visiting relatives in the occupied territories had been allowed to remain there for renewable six-month periods. A number of sealed houses and streets had been reopened. Nevertheless, other measures of collective punishment persisted, such as the imposition of disproportionate curfews, expulsions and the demolition of houses, and Canadian officials had expressed her Government's serious concern to the Israeli authorities in that regard.
56. Following a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, the Israeli authorities had agreed to implement a series of measures to improve detention conditions. Some political prisoners had been released. In the case of minor offences, the detention period before suspects were brought before a judge had been reduced. However, the number of so-called administrative detentions - a practice which violated all forms of jurisprudence - remained high and had increased again in December. Furthermore, disturbing and reliable reports continued of the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation in detention.
57. The past year had not seen an end to the almost daily tragedies associated with the conflict, often involving women and children. Deaths resulting from the use of firearms by the military, the police and undercover units were said to have increased by 60 per cent over the previous year. Half of the victims of undercover unit activities were alleged to have been unarmed. A 30 per cent increase had been reported in internecine killings among Palestinians, and armed attacks on Israelis were commonplace.
58. Her Government appreciated the security requirements of Israel and its concern to protect its citizens. But, pending a settlement allowing withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, the military occupying Power must conform to the standards defined by international humanitarian law. Thus, although Canada had condemned the recent murder of an Israeli soldier, it was also shocked that the incident had led to the expulsion of 415 Palestinians, an action of unprecedented scale that the Secretary of State for External Affairs, Barbara McDougall, had strongly deplored. Such mass deportations fed the anger that drove the intifada and disturbed world public opinion.
59. Her Government had welcomed the authorization of relief supplies by the Israeli authorities and the return of some of the deportees as steps towards a solution in accordance with the Geneva Convention and Security Council resolution 799 (1992). It expressed its satisfaction at the assurances given by the Palestinian and other negotiating parties that the deportations must not be allowed to place the peace process at risk: such were the stakes involved in an issue which played into the hands of the advocates of violence.
60. Canada had a long-standing commitment to peace-keeping in the region and was involved in multilateral working groups, in particular the Refugee Working Group. The first steps towards peace required the implementation of concrete confidence-building initiatives by both sides, designed to bring the parties to the conflict into systematic and mutually beneficial contact. Adequate economic and social conditions must be fostered, so that an atmosphere of confidence could take root in the occupied territories. The confidence-building process was closely linked with the need to entrench humanitarian law and respect for individual and collective human rights.
61. Such steps presupposed a shared willingness to implement Security Council resolution 242 (1967), with its balance of obligations for each of the parties concerned. In the meantime, the legal regime instituted by the international community for situations of military occupation was the Fourth Geneva Convention. There could be no more significant confidence-building measure than the recognition by Israel that the Convention applied
in the West Bank and Gaza. Conscious that such applicability was warranted under international law, her delegation nevertheless believed that the Palestinian leadership, which had had the strategic sense to accept Security Council resolution
, could facilitate such a move by developing proposals to meet Israeli security concerns.
62. Her Government remained determined to play as effective a role as possible in breaking the cycle of violence, in ending the conflict and in creating the conditions needed for the peaceful development of the region. The political will demonstrated by the parties to discuss all issues and resolve the conflict was encouraging. Her Government was also impressed by the courage and good work of the United Nations agencies, notably the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in alleviating the suffering of the people of the occupied territories. Ultimately, however, it rested with the parties themselves to establish human rights as the firm foundation of peace and of their own future. Her delegation was still convinced that respect for human rights and the promotion of democratic values constituted the best guarantee that peace, once negotiated, would be durable.
63. Her delegation regretted that no consensus or near-consensus had been reached in 1992 on the Commission's human rights resolutions concerning the occupied territories. The peace process had changed the Middle East landscape, and it was to be hoped that the resolutions adopted at the current session would fully reflect that new reality. It was important to avoid inflammatory language, which had less to do with human rights than with political jockeying for position in the Middle East. The Commission must concentrate on human rights issues and avoid politicizing the debates, lest its work lack credibility and impact. Her delegation intended to work closely with others to that end.
(Pakistan) said that his delegation joined others in condemning the Israeli deportation of more than 400 Palestinians from the occupied territories, especially as many of those deported were doctors, engineers and other professional men: the action thus amounted to economic strangulation. The root cause of the violations of the human rights of the Palestinians was essentially political, and such violations were a threat to peace and security in the Middle East.
65. The expulsions had triggered an explosion of violence in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza; 25 Palestinians had been killed, including seven children under the aged of 15. In that connection, the State Department of the United States had reported the previous week that 158 Palestinians had been killed in clashes with Israelis in 1992, an increase of 60 per cent over 1991.
66. The international community must uphold universal application of the principles of human rights. It must ensure strict compliance with Security Council resolution 799 (1992) so as to put an end to the violations of the human rights of the Palestinians.
67. His delegation commended the International Committee of the Red Cross on the positive role it had played following the deportation.
(Morocco) said that, at the Commission's previous session, the Israeli representative had made an optimistic statement with regard to the Middle East peace negotiations. However, Israel had taken no steps since then to implement the relevant resolutions adopted by the Commission. He therefore wondered how long Israel would continue to ignore the resolutions adopted by the Commission and other United Nations bodies concerning the deteriorating situation in the occupied territories.
69. In that connection, he recalled the expulsion, in 1992, of some 400 Palestinians from their country and that, despite international condemnation of that illegal action, Israel continued to be inflexible in its attitude. The Security Council must find a solution that would enable those people to return home in accordance with the wishes expressed by the entire international community.
70. He drew attention to the curious situation whereby Israel was using every possible means to suppress the intifada and to deprive the Palestinian people of its rights while at the same time negotiating with representatives of that people with a view to achieving peace in the region. It was thus by no means clear that Israel really wished to achieve peace and to respect the rules of international law.
71. Many circles in the Middle East had welcomed the change of Government in Israel in 1992 and hoped that the new Government would adopt a policy different from that of the former one. However, they had been sorely disappointed, since the new administration continued to follow the policy of the previous one.
72. With regard to the situation in Jerusalem, he recalled that the Committee established by the Islamic Conference under the chairmanship of King Hassan II of Morocco was making every effort to preserve the identity and heritage of that city. King Hassan had said in a statement to the Heads of State attending a meeting of the Security Council in January 1992 that the Arab and Islamic peoples had always shown flexibility and still wished to cooperate with the other side but that, unfortunately, their initiatives were always met by political intransigence and the use of force. To build confidence and ensure peace in the region, there must be an effective implementation of all the relevant resolutions.
73. In conclusion, he drew attention to the tragic situation of the Arab population in Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon and said that pressure must be brought to bear on Israel to persuade it to withdraw in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the international community.
The meeting rose at 5.15 p.m.