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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 20th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on 4 May 2001, at 3 p.m.
Chairperson: Mrs. BONOAN-DANDAN
OF THE COVENANT
Additional information transmitted by Israel on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories
Additional information transmitted by Israel on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories (document without a symbol distributed during the meeting, in English only)
1. The CHAIRPERSON recalled that, on 2 December 1998, the Committee had adopted its concluding observations concerning the initial report of Israel (document E/C.12/1/Add.27) and, on that occasion, had requested the State party to furnish additional information on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories by its twenty-third session (14 August-1 September 2000). Since the Committee had not received the information requested, it had sent a letter to the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva in December 2000 informing it that the question would be considered on 4 May 2001, whether or not the information requested had been received. The information had finally been transmitted in April 2001, but at too late a date for translation into the working languages of the Committee. She nevertheless proposed that the members of the Committee should consider the question of the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the territories occupied by Israel on the basis of the abundant information at its disposal, in particular the many reports by non-governmental organizations, especially as a representative of the Permanent Mission of Israel was attending the meeting as an observer. She asked the members of the Committee for their opinion.
2. Mr. HUNT pointed out that the State party had been informed sufficiently early of the Committee’s programme of work for the information requested to have been transmitted in time to be translated and discussed at the current session. There was naturally no question of considering a document which was only in English, but it should still be possible to discuss the matter briefly at the current meeting on the basis of information already available to the Committee, which could then agree to send a letter to the State party informing it of the points raised and stressing the violations of the provisions of the Covenant in the occupied territories giving rise to social injustice that only made the situation worse.
3. Mr. SADI said that the Committee had requested additional information from Israel on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories, in 1998 because it had considered the situation to be critical and to require special attention. Matters had not improved since then, far from it. The Committee could therefore discuss the question without further delay and possibly initiate a dialogue with the representative of the State party who was present, although only as an observer.
4. Mr. GRISSA said he agreed with Mr. Hunt that, since the additional report of Israel was available in English only, the Committee was not in a position to consider the situation in the occupied territories. He therefore proposed that the consideration of the question should be postponed until a later session of the Committee.
5. Mr. RIEDEL said it was unacceptable that Israel was continuing to claim that it was not legally responsible for the implementation of the Covenant in the occupied Palestinian territories. Naturally, the Committee should consider the situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the territories occupied by Israel in detail only when it had before it the additional report translated into the working languages. In the circumstances, however, the Committee could also continue to consider the initial report of Israel under the scheduled procedure in the absence of reports and so inform the State party by letter.
6. Mr. CEAUSU said that the Committee held Israel responsible for human rights violations in the occupied territories, although the State party continued to claim the contrary on the pretext that certain powers had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority as a result of agreements between the two parties. The Committee could perhaps request the viewpoint of the Palestinian Authority on the matter.
7. The CHAIRPERSON stressed that that was a sensitive issue because the Palestinian Authority was not officially recognized as a State.
8. Mr. RATTRAY said he was of the opinion that, all things considered, the Committee could not take a decision on the issue as things stood. It might perhaps be possible to take a middle-of-the-road approach in the form of a letter from the Chairperson asking the State party to refrain from aggravating the situation and to show restraint in the occupied territories.
9. Mr. TEXIER said that the situation in the occupied territories had not only not improved, but had worsened considerably as a result of the frequent cordoning-off of the territories, the growing poverty of their inhabitants, the failure to respect the basic rules of humanitarian law, etc. The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was being violated, just as the refugees’ right of return was being flouted. The Committee could not remain silent in the face of that unacceptable situation. He therefore proposed that the Committee should send a firm letter to the Government of Israel expressing deep concern about the deterioration of the situation in the occupied territories and requesting a dialogue on the subject with representatives of the State party, preferably at the special session scheduled for August 2001.
10. Mr. RIEDEL stressed the need to remind the State party that, in the absence of a representative of the Government of Israel when the situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories was considered, the Committee would follow the established procedure in such cases.
11. Mr. SADI said that the Committee should take note in its letter to the State party of the rejection by Israel of all responsibility for the situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.
12. Following a discussion in which Mr. WIMER, Mr. GRISSA, Mr. MARTYNOV, Mr. RIEDEL and Mr. SADI took part, the CHAIRPERSON said that there seemed to be a consensus on the need to send the Government of Israel a letter deploring the late reception of the additional report which had been requested from the State party, insisting on Israel’s responsibility for the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, expressing deep concern about the violation of economic, social and cultural rights in the territories and informing the Government of the Committee’s decision to consider the additional report of the State party on the situation in the occupied territories at its special session in August 2001 or, at latest, at its twenty-seventh session. She proposed that a draft letter along those lines should be submitted to the members of the Committee as soon as possible.
13. The proposal was accepted.