GRAVE CONCERN EXPRESSED OVER DETERIORATING SITUATION IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP REPORT ON ISRAELI PRACTICES

5 November 2003
GA/SPD/276

GRAVE CONCERN EXPRESSED OVER DETERIORATING SITUATION IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP REPORT ON ISRAELI PRACTICES

05/11/2003
Press ReleaseGA/SPD/276

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

19th Meeting (AM)

GRAVE CONCERN EXPRESSED OVER DETERIORATING SITUATION IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN

TERRITORIES, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP REPORT ON ISRAELI PRACTICES

Expressing grave concern over the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Chairman of the Special Committee established to investigate Israeli practices in those territories presented his annual report to the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning.

He stressed that road closures, curfews and the multiplication of mobile checkpoints had prevented thousands of ordinary Palestinians from going to work, cultivating their fields, getting access to health facilities or sending their children to school.  Another side effect of the increased military occupation was the renewed campaign of destruction of houses and property undertaken by Israeli forces, he added.

He said the economic crisis affecting the occupied territory left more than 50 per cent of the Palestinian workforce unemployed and 60 per cent of the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip living under the poverty line.  The situation also had an impact on Israel, which had experienced an estimated decline of 9 per cent in its per capita gross domestic product in the last two years.

He pointed to a similar deteriorating pattern of the human rights situation in the Syrian Golan in terms of education and employment for the 50,000 Syrian Arabs living there and of the living conditions of 500,000 other Syrians, many of them refugees from the occupied Golan.

Noting that efforts undertaken to enhance the Middle East Road Map process had produced no positive results and that the truce agreed upon by armed Palestinian groups had been broken, leading to a devastating cycle of violence by both parties, he called on Israel to ensure that the current living conditions of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories did not provoke a major and irreversible humanitarian and human rights disaster.

Several speakers deplored the disturbing view of life under the occupation, as detailed in the Special Committee’s report, and highlighted the negative effects of the Israeli settlements and of the construction of the wall of separation.  The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine said the repeated Israeli claims that the settlements and the wall were intended for “security purposes” were obscene and absurd.  Apart from their immediate and long-term humanitarian consequences, those practices seriously undermined the contiguity of the Palestinian territory and threatened to make the two-State solution impossible to implement.  The representative of Iran said the separation wall marked the beginning of a new phase in the plight of the Palestinian people and would cause direct harm to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in dozens of villages and towns in the West Bank.

In light of the continued deterioration of the situation in the occupied territories, speakers reaffirmed the need for the Special Committee to continue its work.  The Syrian representative said that any attempt to weaken the Special Committee’s role would be giving Israel a cover to continue to deny the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

The representative of the United States, however, reiterated his country’s long-standing opposition to the Special Committee, which provided a biased mandate to investigate the actions of one Member State.  The United States goal was to see the Committee eliminated, he added.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Lebanon, Jordan, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Tunisia, Qatar and the Sudan.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 6 November, to continue its consideration of the Special Committee’s report.

Background

When the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning, it was expected to begin its consideration of Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

It had before it the report of the Special Committee on the matter (document A/58/311) which reflects the summary of information gathered during the mission of the Special Committee to Egypt, Jordan and Syria from 13 to 24 June.

Section IV of the report, summarizing the human rights situation in the occupied territories, focuses on issues of particular concern in the light of the testimonies and material received:  the right of self-determination; the right to liberty of movement; the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing; the right to just and favourable conditions of work; the right to education; the right to health; the right to liberty and security of person; the right to freedom of opinion and of association; and the right to life.

According to the report, the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has drastically deteriorated since Israel’s military incursions.  Witnesses appearing before the Committee have provided detailed testimony and information referring to dramatic circumstances under which Palestinian citizens have been living during the period under review.  It is stated that 60 per cent of the Palestinian population is living under the poverty line.  Despite some hopes generated by the launching of the Road Map for a Middle East settlement, in early June 2003, the construction by the Israelis of a separation wall, which does not respect the “Green Line” of 1967, is perceived by the Palestinians as an annexation of important parts of their homeland.

The report says that during the Special Committee’s visit to Damascus it received information from the Syrian authorities, and met with a number of individuals originally from the occupied Syrian Arab Golan.  A report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Syria on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan is attached to the Special Committee’s report.  According to the information received, the consequences of the long-term occupation of the Golan have been extensive, affecting all aspects of the life of families, villages and communities.

Also before the Committee today was a report of the Secretary-General (document A/58/310) which details the activities carried out by the Department of Public Information (DPI) and by United Nations information centres and services to promote the work of the Special Committee.

The report says that, during the reporting period, the DPI disseminated information on the activities of the Special Committee, including documents, press releases and relevant reports.  In addition, the revised and updated publication of the DPI, entitled The Question of Palestine and the United Nations (DPI/2276), includes extensive references to the reports of the Special Committee, including sections dealing with questions of human rights, settlements and refugees.  The booklet was printed in March 2003 in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian and was widely disseminated to all United Nations offices in the field.

According to the report, the United Nations Information Service at the United Nations Office at Geneva bears a special responsibility for promoting human rights, given its close proximity to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and consequent involvement in the work of the Office, as well as of the Commission on Human Rights, the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and in the majority of the sessions of the six human rights treaty bodies meeting in Geneva.

The report says that the United Nations Information Centre in Cairo provided support to the Special Committee during its mission to the region by facilitating wide media coverage of its work.

The Fourth Committee also had before it other reports of the Secretary-General.  A report dated 15 July 2003(document A/58/155) states that no reply had been received to the Secretary-General’s request to the Government of Israel for information on any steps taken or envisaged towards implementing General Assembly resolution 57/125 of 11 December 2002, demanding Israel’s acceptance of the Geneva Convention on Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War as applying to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories.

A report dated 8 August 2003(document A/58/263) says the Secretary-General received no reply to his request to the Government of Israel for information on any steps towards implementation of General Assembly resolution 57/126 of 11 December 2002 concerning Israeli settlements, which demanded the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories, and reaffirmed that Israeli settlements in those areas were illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development.  Another report dated 15 July 2003 (document A/58/156) says the Secretary-General had received no reply to his request for information of any steps the Government of Israel had taken, or envisaged taking, concerning the implementation of General Assembly resolution 57/127 of 11 December 2002, which demanded Israel’s full compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and condemned acts of violence against Palestine civilians.

A further report dated 8 August 2003 (document A/58/264) says the Secretary-General had received no information from the Government of Israel on steps towards implementation of Assembly resolution 57/128 on the occupied Syrian Golan.  That resolution, among other provisions, called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981), demanding that Israel rescind its decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the area.

Statement by Special Committee Chairman

CHITHAMBARANATHAN MAHENDRAN (Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special Committee, introduced its report, saying that the situation in the occupied territories had become worse and that the efforts undertaken to enhance the Road Map process had produced no positive results.  On the contrary, the truce agreed upon by armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas had been broken, with a devastating cycle of violence by both parties that resulted in the injury or killing of many innocent civilians and the destruction of infrastructures and basic facilities.

He said the intensification of military operations against Palestinians had worsened the effects of the Israeli occupation and nurtured an ongoing process of terrorist acts, indiscriminate use of force, and retaliation measures by both sides to the conflict.  He said the Special Committee had tried to establish a meaningful dialogue with the State of Israel but to no avail.

The time had come for the Special Committee to be allowed by the Israeli authorities to get access to the occupied territories, and to assess for itself the current situation of human rights, as well as to ascertain the views of the Government of Israel on those issues.

According to Palestinian sources, he said, the separation wall was believed to gradually annex about 55 per cent of the West Bank, which would lead to the emergence of about 50 isolated pockets and “islands”, disrupting the territorial integrity of the lands that make up Palestine.  Also, as a result of the wall, East Jerusalem, the future capital and economic centre of the Palestinian State, would be cut off from key agricultural, industrial and commercial locations.

He said that, because of closures of roads, local curfews and the multiplication of mobile checkpoints, thousands of ordinary Palestinians were prevented from going to work, cultivating their fields, getting access to health facilities or sending their children to school.  Another side effect of the increased military occupation was the renewed campaign of destruction of houses and property undertaken by Israeli forces.

He said the economic crisis affecting the occupied territory left more than 50 per cent of the Palestinian workforce unemployed and 60 per cent of the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip living under the poverty line.  The situation also had an impact on Israel, which had experienced a decline estimated at 9 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the last two years.

On the Special Committee’s visit to Syria, he said there was a similar deteriorating pattern of the human rights situation, in terms of education and employment for the 50,000 Syrian Arabs living in the occupied Syrian Golan and of the living conditions for 500,000 other Syrians, many of them refugees from the occupied Golan.

Today, he said, the inalienable right of the Palestinians to a homeland of their own was threatened both by the erection of the separation wall, the unabated policy of new Jewish settlements, and the heavy destruction of infrastructures, properties and homes.  As an occupying Power, he said, the State of Israel had the obligation to ensure that the present living conditions of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories did not provoke a major and irreversible humanitarian and human rights disaster.  The work of the Special Committee in this arduous context should continue and be fully supported, with the view to reminding the international community of its incumbent responsibility for alleviating the plight of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories.

Statements

FEDA ABDELHADY NASSER, Permanent Observer for Palestine, said the suffering and hardships of the Palestinian people were caused not by an uncontrollable natural disaster, but rather by a man-made disaster that had involved the deliberate subjugation of a people under military occupation.  The consequent frustration, pain, anger, exhaustion and desperation among the Palestinian people were mounting, and driving some Palestinians to commit horrific and condemnable acts of violence against civilians in Israel.  She said that while condemning those acts, the Palestinian Authority was cognizant of the source of such actions.

Israel, she said, had flagrantly violated all the provisions in the Fourth Geneva Convention, in addition to other fundamental norms and instruments of international law.  Over the past three years of its military campaign against the Palestinian people and their leadership, Israel had committed countless war crimes, State terrorism and human rights violations.  Since September 2000, more than 2,600 Palestinians had been killed, many by extrajudicial execution, thousands had been detained and thousands of homes, shelters and properties had been damaged or destroyed.

She said Israel continued to pursue its illegal settlement activities and the illegal practice of confiscating and annexing land, both for the building and expansion of its settlements and the building of its expansionist wall.  The repeated Israeli claims that the settlement and the wall were intended for “security purposes” were obscene and absurd; apart from the immediate and long-term humanitarian consequences, those practices seriously undermined the contiguity of the Palestinian territory and threatened to make the two-State solution impossible to implement.

She said the overall impact of the illegal Israeli policies and practices on the human rights situation of the Palestinian population had been disastrous.  Israel should be held accountable for all of those violations, crimes and atrocities against the Palestinian people.  Israeli compliance with international law, beginning with a complete cessation of the military campaign against the Palestinian people, would allow for the development of conditions conducive to resuming negotiations between the parties towards ending the occupation and attaining a final settlement, with two States living side by side in peace and security.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that any attempt to weaken the Special Committee’s role would be giving Israel a cover to continue to deny the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.  Israel still refused to cooperate some 35 years after the establishment of the Committee.  That was no surprise.  Israel, after occupying the Syrian Golan, had used all means to rob the land and Judaize the population, establish settlements land and deprive the people of the Syrian Arab Golan of their basic rights.  Israel continued to establish new settlements and expand those that already existed.

Some half-a-million Syrians in the occupied Golan were still awaiting return to their homes, he said.  Israel continued to violate the resolutions on international legitimacy, and refused to heed all international calls.  It had increased its activities with a new campaign to enlarge the number of settlements in the Golan, which stood at 44 today, and had established a committee to build some 600 new residential units.  The Knesset had submitted a draft law to consecrate the occupation of the Golan.  Israel’s leadership must know that oppression could not go on; the occupied Golan was an integral part of Syria that would one day return to the motherland, regardless of the strength of occupation.

He said this year’s report from the Special Committee included references to increased forms of suffering.  The number of detainees in Israeli prisons had increased.  Israel aimed to deform the history of the region and replace the Arab curricula with Hebrew curricula, with the purpose of erasing the identity of the Arabs.  Israel prevented Syrians from visiting their homes and families, who were often unable to participate in funerals.  Israel continued to destroy the environment by uprooting trees and transferring fertile soil to Israeli settlements.  Israel not only used the water at the settlements but also exported it, thus violating international resolutions.  Israel continued its policy of seizing land and oppressing fundamental freedoms to prejudice the Arabism of the Golan.

The occupied Palestinian territories had become real war zones, he said.  Recently, State-sponsored terrorism and war crimes perpetuated by Israel had resulted in large numbers of deaths, violating the hopes and efforts of the international community to achieve peace in the Middle East.  Aggressive Israeli acts had escalated an already tense situation in the region.  In addition, threats of more aggression were an obvious attempt by the “government of war” to export its internal crisis and divert attention from its failure to achieve security.  Syria, which had resorted to international legitimacy, was capable of defending its territory; military force could not take the place of reason.

He said some people of goodwill still had hope that the Israeli Government would respond to the requirements of comprehensive and just peace.  That Government was escalating its oppressive policies against the Palestinian people, including the building of the separation wall.  Syria reiterated the choice of comprehensive and just peace that was based on the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, and relevant resolutions.  Israel had turned a blind eye to the Arab peace initiative, he added.

Mohamed Issa (Lebanon), called on Israel to pursue the peace efforts set forth during the Arab Summit which took place in Beirut in March 2003.  He said that all Arab States wanted a just peace for all countries in the region so that efforts could be focused on development rather than on war.

The Arab peace initiative opened the door wide before Israel to usher a new era together with all other Arab States, but Israel had responded with further massacres in Palestinian territories and brutal acts of repression.  Lebanon, he added, hoped that Israel would pursue the track of peace.

HARON HASSAN (Jordan) said he did not agree that the Special Committee was biased.  If Israel would cooperate with that body, it would be able to produce a more comprehensive presentation on the difficult situation on the ground.

However murky the picture seemed, he continued, Jordan tried to maintain optimism.  A just peace was the only solution to the conflict, based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Middle East Road Map.  As the parties were unable to resolve the conflict on their own, the role of the honest American broker came into play with the support of the Quartet (the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russian Federation) and the international community as a whole.

He said the Geneva Accord was proof of the strong political commitment among Palestinians and moderate Israelis to a two-State solution, based on the vision for Middle East peace of the United States President.  Saying the Road Map offered the way to achieving that objective, he called on both parties to implement it, since it offered a sound framework accepted by all sides for the solution to the conflict.

He regretted that Israel continued to infringe on the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people and violated its obligations under the Geneva Convention.  It continued to conduct extrajudicial killings, to implement its settlement policy and to impose restrictions and blockades that aggravated the already dire economic conditions of the Palestinian people.  Israel was responsible for its actions and illegal practices against the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.  He called on Israel to refrain from threatening the Palestinian leadership and from building the separation wall.

He said Israel was responsible for the destruction not only of the Palestinian Authority but also of the land, agriculture, camps, water aquifers and livelihoods of the Palestinian people.  Intensive Israeli security policies would never replace the political process in resolving the conflict.  Like all forms of violence, those policies undermined the prospects for peace.  In that context, he said suicide attacks not only hurt the Palestinian cause but also led to the death of innocent civilians.

He said the new Palestinian Prime Minister needed the international community’s full backing to tackle the security situation, and to implement the provisions of the Road Map.  All sides needed to do more to move the political process forward.  In the Golan Heights, Israeli practices were also in violation of international law.  Israel should refrain from such measures that involved an increased illegal settlement activity and economic restrictions on the Syrian population in that area.  It was time for bold, positive and progressive steps to take the peace process forward, through the Road Map.

SHAMSHER M. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that more than a generation of Palestinians had known nothing but occupation, incursions, demolitions, arrests and killings.  No other nation on earth had suffered so much for so long.  With the crumbling of the peace process, the people of Palestine languished in a hopeless situation that worsened every day.  The Fourth Geneva Convention contained specific provisions on the responsibilities of an occupying Power, including the obligation to guarantee the basic human rights of people under its occupation.  Israel, as the occupying Power, could not legally or morally absolve itself from those obligations.

Unfortunately, the Israeli authority was trampling upon the basic human rights of the Palestine people with impunity, he said.  Last year, the world had witnessed new heights in Israel’s systematic campaign to destroy what was left of the Palestinian’s sustenance.  Despite international condemnation, the Israeli Government had proceeded with the construction of a separation wall inside the Palestinian territories.  Such activities predetermined the outcome of future negotiations on permanent status and threatened to undermine the vision of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel.  The security wall and settlements in the West Bank built on Palestinian land were serious obstacles to the achievement of a two-State solution.

In the past year, Israel had resorted to a policy of targeted assassination of Palestinian political leaders and activists, he said.  While he recognized the right of all in the region to live in security, Israel did not have the right to resort to such extrajudicial measures.  Reiterating his unwavering support to the legitimate and inalienable right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign and independent homeland, he demanded the full and immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian self-rule area and return to positions held prior to September 2000.  Security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians could best be achieved through the political process set out in the Road Map.  He called on the Israeli Government to halt its current military actions, so as to enable the Palestinian Authority to take necessary steps.

ALI AL-NEAIMI (United Arab Emirates) reiterated his solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Arab inhabitants of the Syrian Golan and condemned the Israeli aggression, which contradicted all humanitarian laws and international resolutions. 

He called on the international community to use all possible means to compel Israel to stop its aggression against the Palestinian people, end all policies of closures and blockades, refrain from establishing illegal settlements, dismantle the separation wall, release all detainees and respect the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

NADJEH BAAZIZ (Algeria) said the Special Committee was the only body available to keep abreast of Israel’s inhuman policies and must continue with its activities.  It was increasingly difficult to follow the pace of violations in occupied Palestine.  The human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories had worsened in the current year.  Closures, collective punishments, curfews, and the building of the separation wall were practices that harkened back to the policy of apartheid.  Israel’s campaign of excessive and disproportionate use of force had contributed to the vicious circle of violence.  The Israeli occupying forces had destroyed much of the Palestinian infrastructure and had imposed severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, all of which had humanitarian consequences. 

Another form of racial discrimination was Israel’s new law on nationality, she said.  The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had asked Israel to revoke that law, which had affected a large number of families.  The new law raised grave issues regarding the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.  Israel had transferred some 400,000 settlers to the occupied Palestinian territories, setting up more than 200 colonies on more than 8 per cent of the Palestinian land.  By building a wall in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel was committing a further war crime against the Palestinian people.  The ongoing construction of the wall stymied any chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.  Israel must refrain from the construction of the “wall of shame” and dismantle the part already built, she said. 

Israel justified its occupation under the pretext that it was self-defence, she added.  Was establishing settler colonies self-defence?  The Israeli practices ran counter to the hopes of the entire international community. 

AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) noted that the building of the wall of separation was scattering Palestinian families and leading to the confiscation of Palestinian farmlands.  Israel continued its policy of oppression, the destruction of the economic infrastructure in the occupied territories and its efforts to modify the social, economic and legal character of the Syrian Golan by granting credits to Israeli settlers.  The international community, he said, realized that those policies of oppression would only lead to more destruction, he said.

MEHDI MOLLA HOSSEINI (Iran) said the separation wall marked the beginning of a new phase in the plight of the Palestinian people and would cause direct harm to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in dozens of villages and towns in the West Bank.  He called on the international community and on the United Nations in particular to focus all of its attention on putting an end to the inhumane practices of the Israeli regime and on protecting defenceless Palestinian civilians in the occupied territory.

He emphasized the need for the continuation of the activities of the Special Committee and its functioning as an integral part of the United Nations, so that Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories could be continually investigated and brought to the attention of United Nations Member States.

RACHMAT BUDIMAN (Indonesia) said he was appalled at the continuing disregard of Israel for the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs, and for the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.  No Member State should so flagrantly and openly ignore the will of the international community.  It was an embarrassment to the multilateral process for Israel to refuse to acknowledge the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories and not to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects and persons.

Indonesia, he said, supported the recommendation of the Special Committee that the General Assembly request the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take concrete measures in respect of their obligations to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention.

KAIS KABTANI (Tunisia) stressed the pivotal role played by the Special Committee.  The discussion on Israeli practices was taking place at a serious juncture, due to the serious escalation of violence by Israel.  The report was full of facts and details regarding Israel’s continuing practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people.  The report reflected the gravity of Israeli practices, including closures, house demolitions and arbitrary detention.  The most serious development could be the building of the separation wall, which was a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, the Road Map and a two-State vision.

The international community must work to avoid the mounting feelings of desperation on the part of the Palestinian people, he said.  Expansionist measures to change the demographic situation in the occupied Syrian Golan and the serious deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories required urgent international intervention.  In light of the gravity of the current situation, he reiterated the call to guarantee the protection of the brotherly people of Palestine, as well as the importance of the Special Committee’s mission.

KHALID IBRAHIM AL-HAMAR (Qatar) said that, for more than three years, the world had witnessed a campaign by Israeli forces against the Palestinian people.  Human rights violations were perpetrated daily, in full view of the world.  Such violations were illegitimate acts that must be condemned, given the damaging psychological effect they were having on the Palestinian people.  The international community must take urgent measures to apply international law regarding the violations of the occupying forces.  He urged the international community to take immediate measures, in the framework of international legitimacy, to curb the actions of occupying forces.  He stressed the right of the Palestinians to resist occupation.

The report described the situation as very tense, he said.  Israel persisted in its breach of international law.  The building of a separation wall in the West Bank would further complicate the lives of the Palestinian people.  With some 60 per cent of the Palestinians living under the poverty line, Palestinians could not make a living and were on the verge of humanitarian collapse.  He called on the international community, especially the United States, to shoulder their responsibilities and provide the required protection for the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli war machine.  Israel must carry out its commitments and pull out of all the Arab territories occupied since 1967.

BENJAMIN GILMAN (United States) said the United States viewed with great concern the resolutions under the agenda item, as they did not further the goal of promoting peace and security in the Middle East.  Rather, they only served to sustain the climate of distrust between the parties.  He reiterated the United States long-standing opposition to the Special Committee, which provided a biased mandate for a special committee to investigate the actions of one Member State.  The United States goal was to see the Committee eliminated.  Its mandate was skewed, since it did not consider the human rights abuses committed by the Palestinian Authority or other entities.

Continuing, he said the Special Committee only served to isolate Israel, which exacerbated the conflict.  Moreover, a Geneva-based rapporteur, who had the same mandate, soon planned to address the Third Committee.  Such redundancy was a waste of valuable United Nations funds that could be better used elsewhere.  Other resolutions under the agenda item took a similar biased approach and addressed issues that would best be considered during final status negotiations by the parties.

The process by which the resolutions were considered, year after year, with little change, was also not helpful, he said.  It was regrettable that the Fourth Committee would spend its time and energy reflexively endorsing the same set of resolutions year after year for some 35 years.  They did nothing to improve the situation on the ground.  On the contrary, they only further damaged the level of trust between the parties.  The United States supported the principle of United Nations reform.  Streamlining all Fourth Committee agenda items and the resolutions that fell under them should be a goal for those who sought the Assembly’s reform.

The United States, with its Quartet partners, remained committed to achieving President Bush’s vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.  In that respect, the numerous one-sided anti-Israeli resolutions voted on each year were not helpful.  They were politically driven, serving only to reinforce old divisions.  They were, furthermore, inconsistent with United Nations support for the Quartet’s efforts to achieve a just and durable two-State solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and made it more difficult for the United Nations to be a full partner to the peace process.

ABDEL RAHMAN M. RAHAMTALLA (Sudan) said the international community must stop Israel’s violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.  Restrictions on movement that prevented Palestinians from moving from village to village were especially affecting children and pregnant women, who were giving birth at checkpoints.  The right to religion and association was being violated.  The building of the separation wall was Israel’s latest violation of international law. 

Israel was using State terrorism in the worst possible form, and he was gravely concerned at its defiance of the international community.  Israel’s violation of human rights instruments and the Geneva Convention had set back peace in the region.  He called on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to end its occupation.  Israel’s human rights violations could not be justified by any pretext for security. 

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For information media. Not an official record.