Refugee Returns Possible ‘Doorway’ to Resolving Arab-Israeli Conflict, Say Fourth Committee Delegates, as Israel Touts ‘Cynicism’ of Israeli Practices Committee
Refugee Returns Possible ‘Doorway’ to Resolving Arab-Israeli Conflict, Say Fourth Committee Delegates, as Israel Touts ‘Cynicism’ of Israeli Practices Committee
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
22nd Meeting (AM)
Refugee Returns Possible ‘Doorway’ to Resolving Arab-Israeli Conflict, Say Fourth
Committee Delegates, as Israel Touts ‘Cynicism’ of Israeli Practices Committee
As Long as Special Committee Prejudges Israel’s Culpability, Says Speaker, Israel
Will Refuse to Cooperate; Others Say ‘Logic of Force’, Not ‘Force of Law’ Prevails
The international community needed to prevent a total collapse of the direct negotiations on the Palestinian track, and an end to the occupation and the return of refugees could serve as a “doorway” to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, delegates told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today as it concluded its general debate on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Israel’s representative said this year’s report offered another one-sided narrative, submitting a wide-ranging and harsh criticism of Israel, while failing to mention attacks by Hamas on Israeli villages and towns. He said the Special Committee instead sought to advance a cynical political agenda, with the goal of vilifying Israel and the right of its citizens to live in peace and security.
While explanations that discussion about Hamas or human rights violations committed by other Palestinian groups did not fall within the mandate of the Special Committee’s report were “convenient”, they excluded the Committee from its basic obligation to pursue impartial and objective fact-finding, that speaker said. So long as the Special Committee predetermined its conclusion and findings, Israel refused — and would continue to refuse — to cooperate with a body that prejudged its culpability.
It was “absurd”, he went on to say, to hear condemnation and criticism of Israel’s judiciary system and human rights record from several countries in the region and beyond — countries where the majority of human rights activists were in prison, where there was no freedom of press, and where there was no independent judiciary. He called on Israel’s Arab neighbours to join in taking concrete steps to pursue peace instead of engaging in futile rhetoric, and hoped that the Palestinians would join in direct negotiations without delay.
There had meanwhile been many positive developments in the West Bank and in Gaza over the past year, as had been acknowledged by the diplomatic Quartet and other relevant bodies that sought to promote peace, he said. Israel was engaged with several United Nations agencies, international organizations, and partner countries, to move forward and substantially improve the West Bank economy, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints. “Those significant steps should not be taken lightly,” he said.
The representative of Lebanon said that while the Israeli Government continued to ignore international consensus and resolutions on a two-State solution, the end of the occupation and the return of refugees, whether now or later, would remain a “doorway” to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the necessary avenue for Israel to be accepted by all those who adhered to the rule of law in the international community. However, the Israeli “logic of force”, rather than “force of law”, persisted. The crimes committed by occupying soldiers were “endless”, he said, adding that no peace could be imagined as long as the blockade was imposed.
Egypt’s representative said that the international community needed to prevent a total collapse of the direct negotiations on the Palestinian track. Serious negotiations, he warned, could not occur while Israel continued to carry out illegal actions in the occupied Arab territories. He expressed concerned over the detainment of more than 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, where torture and ill-treatment were reportedly widely used.
Turning to the Syrian Golan, that representative echoed the sentiments of several other delegations before the Committee when he reaffirmed that all unlawful actions by Israel, the occupying Power since 1967, constituted a clear violation of international law.
The planned expansion of Israeli Jewish settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan, agreed Malaysia’s Representative was a matter of serious concern. The illegal expansion would forever change the physical and demographic composition of the occupied Syrian Golan and deprive the inhabitants of precious and scarce resources, especially water. The unlawful practices that violated the human rights of Palestinians must stop, and Israeli authorities must be made accountable. The international community and the United Nations Security Council must act on its resolutions and sanction Israel for non-compliance.
Iran’s representative expressed deep concern over the increase in the number of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan, as well as the grave deterioration there of human rights. The Golan was an integral part of Syria, and he condemned all measures taken by the “illegitimate occupying Power” to undermine the territorial integrity of Syria.
The fundamental problem of the longstanding crisis was not the lack of peace plans, but the illegal occupation of the Palestinian and other Arab territories, he said. All the plans were doomed to failure because, in one way or another, they all failed to tackle the crisis from its root cause, including the occupation itself. All Palestinians who had a legitimate stake in the Territory of Palestine, including Muslims, Christians and Jews, and especially among them, the Palestinian refugees who had borne for years the ordeals of exile, had to freely decide on their own future in general referendum.
Algeria’s representative said that despite the appeals of the international community and the outlook for peace and security, Israel refused to stop the settlements, and the annexed Syrian Golan continued to suffer the same unacceptable attacks against its identity and its Arab nature. Israeli identity was being forced on the area, and the living conditions worsened daily in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including arbitrary detentions and arrests.
Also speaking in the debate on Israeli Practices were the representatives of Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
The representative of Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply, as did the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.
The representative of Bahrain delivered a statement to conclude the general debate on UNRWA.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 10 November, to take action on the draft resolution on atomic radiation, and a draft decision on the Committee’s programme of work for 2011.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its general debate on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, and to conclude its debate on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the human rights of the Palestinians and other Arab peoples of the occupied territories remained dire, and he was greatly alarmed by the findings of the latest reports and the long-standing pattern of systemic violations committed by Israel, the occupying Power. Indeed the situation bore witness to a continuing severe deterioration that infringed on a wide scope of rights, including the right to self-determination, the right to freedom of movement and the right to life.
He said that the Movement was extremely concerned about Israeli measures to transfer the civilian population from strategic areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, through illegal measures that included forced evictions, home demolitions, continued erection of the separation wall, revocation of residency rights, and continuation of settlement activities. In addition, there was the continued imposition of checkpoints and roadblocks. Concerning Gaza, the situation was a top priority for the Movement, and the deteriorated human rights continued to inflict deep suffering on the Palestinian civilian population.
He was also concerned over the detainment of more than 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, where torture and ill-treatment were reportedly widely used. Turning to the Syrian Golan, he reaffirmed that all unlawful actions by Israel, the occupying Power since 1967, constituted a clear violation of international law. He stressed that serious negotiations could not be carried out while Israel continued to carry out illegal actions in the occupied Arab territories. The international community must prevent a total collapse of the direct negotiations on the Palestinian track. He reaffirmed the commitment to a just solution to the conflict, with the question of Palestine at its core, and to the immediate restoration of the inalienable right of the Palestinian peoples to self-determination in an independent State of Palestine.
MUBARAK AL-KHALIFA (Qatar) said that Israel inhibited the Special Committee by denying it access to the territories, as it had done for years. The practices of the Israeli authorities were exacted against an innocent people, on the pretext of combating violence — an allegation that was unreal and unjust, since the right to self-determination was a legitimate right. The practices of Israel against the Palestinian people denied them the basic rights to life, education, health-care, and a decent standard of living, and preventing them from enjoying adequate working conditions and the right to freedom of expression. Also persistent was collective punishment, and cruel and inhumane treatment, and a decline in the standard of living, particularly in the Gaza strip. Israel, the occupying Power, continued to build the separation wall, which violated the human rights of tens of thousands of Palestinian peoples and exacerbated the economical and social life. By so doing, Israel was reneging on legal and international commitments, and violating the opinion of the International Court of Justice, international humanitarian law, and international human rights.
He said that the international community must enjoin Israel to immediately cease those violations, and it must hold it accountable for all its illegal settlement activities. The settlements, in particular, had been condemned by the international community, as illegal, regardless of what they were called — natural growth or anything else. Even if they were only limited to East Jerusalem, it was important for the international community to mobilize and translate into action the words of support for the Palestinian people. Qatar, despite its small size, had made great efforts to support the Palestinian people in political and material terms. It would extend all its effort to put a stop to the humiliation of those people. Among the most serious Israeli practices was the attempt to desecrate Islamic shrines. Israel had again humiliated millions if Muslims by defaming Islamic shrines, particularly in Jerusalem; it had allowed extremists to attack the shrines and expel worshipers. In an attempt to eliminate the Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem, Israel had expelled Christians and Muslims, and replaced them with Israeli settlers.
Israel must immediately be made to honour its commitments, in line with international resolutions, he urged. Yet, Israel continued to practice illegal measures against the Palestinian and Arab peoples, contradicting civilized behaviour. Those practices could not be accepted by a member of the international family of nations, especially not by people who professed to seek peace in the Middle East. If Israel had a great vision as it said, it would put an end to the occupation, respect international resolutions and prove its good intentions. Indeed, a comprehensive and just settlement to the Middle East crisis was the aspiration of the whole international community. Further study of the issue was warranted, as it was one of the most important on the United Nations agenda.
AMIR WEISSBROD (Israel), reaffirming the importance Israel placed on the preservation of human rights, said his country was a vibrant and open democracy that enjoyed an independent and highly professional judiciary, active civil society, and free press. Despite constant threats from terrorists, who sought to deny Israel’s citizens their most fundamental rights, Israel upheld and pursued human rights as a sacrosanct ideal that was at the core of the values on which his State was built. It was unfortunate that the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories did not seek to advance the values of human rights, but rather a cynical political agenda with the goal of vilifying Israel and the right of its citizens to live in peace and security and denying them the very right it purported to cherish for others.
He said that the report offered another one-sided narrative, submitting a wide-ranging and harsh criticism of Israel, while failing to mention the simple fact that more than 8,800 rockets had been launched from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns and villages since 2001. The report also completely ignored the current military build-up by the Hamas terrorist organization, which cynically placed its military installations near and inside civilian buildings, including in close proximity to United Nations facilities, endangering both civilians and international organizations in the region. The report also did not mention that, for more than four years, Hamas had held the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, depriving him of his basic human rights, including any visit from the Red Cross.
Explanations that such discussion about Hamas or human rights violations committed by other Palestinian groups did not fall within the mandate of the report were convenient and excluded the Committee from its basic obligation to pursue impartial and objective fact-finding, he said. The Special Committee in its work predetermined its conclusion and findings. Israel refused — and would continue to refuse — to cooperate with a body that prejudged its culpability.
He went on to say that there had been many positive developments in the West Bank and in Gaza over the past year, as had been acknowledged by the diplomatic Quartet and other relevant bodies that sought to promote peace, instead of the predictable narrative of the Special Committee. Israel was engaged with several United Nations agencies, international organizations, and partner countries, to move forward and substantially improve the West Bank economy, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints. Those significant steps should not be taken lightly.
It was absurd, he said, to hear condemnation and criticism of Israel’s judiciary system and human rights record from several countries in the region and beyond — countries where the majority of human rights activists were in prison, where there was no freedom of press, and where there was no independent judiciary. For those countries to lecture Israel about the way to conduct itself in regards to human rights was cynical and reflected the nature of the Special Committee’s work. He asked which of those countries had ever conducted, even once, a true investigation into its State’s human rights practices as Israel did. He called on Israel’s Arab neighbours to join in taking concrete steps to pursue peace instead of engaging in futile rhetoric. He hoped that the Palestinians would join Israel in direct negotiations without delay.
YADH BOUSSELMI (Tunisia) said that it was truly regrettable that the conclusions of the Special Committee were identical to the ones before, that there was a systemic pattern of breaches in international human rights. In addition, he believed the dangerous practice of the settler activity ran counter to human rights. He noted expulsion, annexation, appropriation, and said that the Israeli Government threatened any prospects for peace. He called for a total freeze on settlement activity and a reversal of practices and policies to put an end to economic difficulties of the Palestinians. He recalled also the restrictions on freedom of movement of goods, and its impact on the right to health and food.
He noted that the General Assembly resolution 64/91 called on the Special Committee to continue its investigation into Israeli practices. Tunisia had always been committed to settling the Palestinian question and was a staunch advocate of the Palestinian people, advocating for and supporting the establishment of peace and a sovereign State of Palestine. Tunisia stressed the need to end settlement building and to move to put an end to the struggle and strife, leading to a just peace. While he stressed a need to end the Israeli practices, he was of the firm conviction that a drastic solution could only be found in providing the Palestinians with a reasonable life by implementing the relevant resolutions.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said that the report of the Special Committee had documented violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs in the territories illegally occupied by Israel for over four decades. Recent developments had shown that the violations had worsened. They were, as a result of inter alia, the expansion of illegal settlements, home demolitions, forced evictions, the separation wall, and revocation of residency rights. Settler violence on Palestinians and crimes against their properties and homes had increased, particularly in the last three months, coinciding with the annual olive harvest. The Gaza blockade, which represented collective punishment, was still in place, and notwithstanding the announcement by Israel to ease it, other forms of restrictions and obstacles were still in place. More than 6,200 Palestinians were detained by Israel in prisons, including children, who were subjected to degrading treatment and torture. Those actions clearly contradicted customary international law and Israel’s obligations under international human rights law.
Turning to the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, he said that the planned expansion of Israeli Jewish settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan was a serious matter of concern. The illegal expansion would forever change the physical and demographic composition of the occupied Syrian Golan and deprive the occupied inhabitants of precious and scarce resources, especially water. The unlawful practices that violated the human rights of Palestinians must stop, and Israeli authorities must be made accountable. Impunity must cease, and the international community and the United Nations Security Council must act on its resolutions and sanction Israel for non-compliance.
AMINE CHABI (Morocco) said there had been a grave deterioration of international human rights through a series of violations against civilians in the tightening of the Israeli blockade, the destruction of property, and settler expansionism. The results of the Israeli aggression targeting Gaza were dire. On the situation of human rights, he said the blockade caused ongoing suffering and led to a deterioration of homes and infrastructure. The separation wall was a gross violation of international positions, and he condemned the policies of racial discrimination pursued in the occupied territories. Restrictions on the movement of civilians negatively affected their lives and livelihoods. Those organizations working in Israel stressed that Israel continued to ignore international resolutions. The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had paralysed and obstructed the Palestinian Government.
He said that people were subjected to torture in the Israeli detention centres, and he stressed that the Syrian Golan was also not spared the violation of human rights. That applied both to inhabitants, as well as to United Nations staff assisting civilians of the region. Freedom of speech was restricted and journalists were detained. Additionally, there were land confiscations and the imposition of taxes. Israel must withdraw from the Syrian Golan. Israel violated human rights and other provisions of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention and the opinion of the International Court of Justice, and contravened United Nations reports on the humanitarian situation in the occupied territories. The reports of international humanitarian organizations continued to stress that Israel ignored all decisions calling for the protection of civilians and the cessation of all forms of violence against them. Israel had also failed to implement the decision of the International Court of Justice on the separation wall. He hoped that all violations of human rights would be put to an end.
ABUZIED SHAMSELDIM AHMED MOHAMED (Sudan) said the occupying Power committed war crimes, which was in violation of international humanitarian law, and had laid roadblocks that denied the Palestinians to the right to a decent life and forced them to live in poverty. The United Nations facilities were not spared, schools were attacked, as was the Freedom Flotilla. The ongoing Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan was a violation of United Nations resolutions. The Palestinian question was the central question in the Middle East, and its delegation renewed its support to the Palestinians to restore their rights. It also called for the immediate withdrawal from the Syrian Golan and for a lifting of the blockade to allow for the freedom of movement of goods and persons.
SHARKE CHAMAN KHAN (Bangladesh), associating her statement with that made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that for more than four decades, the Palestinian people had known nothing but occupation, humiliation, incursions, demolitions, collective punishment, indiscriminate arrests, and killings. Their fundamental right to self-determination and to a sovereign State had remained unrealized. Millions were living in refugee camps in a state of poverty and despair. Being a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel could not legally or morally absolve itself of its responsibilities to guarantee the basic human rights of the people under its occupation. She expressed deep concern over the precarious humanitarian situation of the Palestinians, and urged Israel to lift its embargo against Palestinians and open all border crossings to allow the free movement of goods, persons and humanitarian aid.
She said her delegation would like to see the freedom of movement of Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territory, as well as an end to the collective punishment of the civilians of Gaza. Israel should also cease the construction of the separation wall, impairing the contiguity of Palestinian territory, and comply fully with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and all provisions of General Assembly resolutions, ensuring fair trial and detentions in line with the responsibilities set forth in the Road Map. She expressed total solidarity with the Palestinian people, and reiterated full and unwavering support for their cause and inalienable right to a sovereign and independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
FAISAL EBRAHIM AL-ZAYANI (Bahrain) said a close look at the situation of the Palestinians revealed a deterioration in living conditions and serious impediments to enjoyment of basic human rights. He noted the intensification of the Israeli military occupation, and the policy of annexation and settlements, which contradicted international conventions and impeded peace. Security Council resolutions called those practices “illegal” and an “obstacle to a fair, lasting peace in the Middle East”. The separation wall contradicted the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and was at odds with the Road Map and two-State solution. Noted expansion activities and the presence of settlers in the territories, he said that activity would turn the territories into “little isolated pockets”. If not addressed, that would become a social problem and lead to increased poverty.
Moreover, he said, the construction of settlements, populated by more than 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, contradicted the Fourth Geneva Convention. In keeping with the statement by the Special Committee and witnesses, attacks by settlers on Palestinian civilians were increasing. Israel applied its laws in the Syrian Golan and sought to reduce economic activity there. Its policies would impact all activities there and “disfigure” the areas, with the goal of eliminating the Arab culture in the Syrian Golan. During the United Nations Millennium summit, the Heads of State and Government had affirmed the need to establish a fair lasting peace in all countries in the world, in step with the United Nations Charter. The suffering of the Palestinian people in the occupied Syrian Golan would persist, as long as Israel occupied the territories through annexation and colonization.
MOHAMMAD REZA SAHRAEI (Iran) said that for decades, the Israeli regime’s war machine had continued its killings of Palestinian civilians, children, women and elderly people. Throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the entire Palestinian people faced tremendous hardship. They were living in a violent environment, where Israel’s military occupation had left a devastating impact on all aspects of their lives. Of special concern was the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which was exacerbated by the continued imposition by the Israeli regime of a severe blockade on the territory. More than 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza were still suffering from the aftermath of the Israeli regime’s aggression of December 2008 to January 2009, the lack of food, medicine, electricity and other essential materials and services.
He said that in order to solve the question of Palestine, various plans and initiatives had already been presented. Some of them had been implemented, however, owing to ignorance of the legitimate cause and basic rights of the Palestinian people, all of the plans had been defeated. The fundamental problem of the longstanding crisis was not the lack of peace plans, but the illegal occupation of the Palestinian and other Arab territories. All the plans were doomed to failure because, in one way or another, they all failed to tackle the crisis from its root cause, including the occupation itself. All Palestinians who had a legitimate stake in the Territory of Palestine, including Muslims, Christians and Jews, and especially among them, the Palestinian refugees who had borne for years the ordeals of exile, had to freely decide on their own future in general referendum.
Regarding the occupation of Golan, he said that the Golan was an integral part of Syria, and he condemned all measures taken by the illegitimate occupying Power to undermine the territorial integrity of Syria. He expressed deep concern over the grave deterioration of the human rights situation and the increase in the number of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan.
LINA AL-GHARAIBEH (Jordan), aligning her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that if Israel really wanted peace, it should end its practices. There were intensified international efforts that would lead to a peaceful solution, in a way that guaranteed sovereignty and the lines of 1967. She condemned the evictions, home demolitions and urged a cessation of land confiscations. The Arabs and the Muslims had done everything to achieve peace, as had been shown by the Arab Peace initiative. That plan was affirmed in all summits and was a demonstration of the Arab-Islamic effort to establish peace. Those and other initiatives, however, fell on deaf ears by consecutive Israeli Governments. The representative insisted the Palestinian question was central to all problems in the Middle East, including violence and extremism, and she called on Israel to comply with its international obligations for the cause of peace.
EZZIDIN Y.A. BELKHEIR (Libya) said racism was part and parcel of Israel’s practices, hence the establishment of the Special Committee. However, the Committee was faced with a non-cooperation policy, and the Israeli Government continued to challenge the integrity of the components of the United Nations, refusing to heed many international resolutions. The occupation authorities did not heed international legitimacy; he called on the United Nations to ensure compliance with its resolutions and cooperation with it entities so that fact-finding and other such commissions could undertake their tasks.
Meanwhile, he said, the report of the Special Committee reflected the “ugliness” of the Zionist occupation, which would go to any lengths to achieve its “mythological objectives”. Those included terrorist assassinations, threats against organizations that attempted to provide information to international institutions, and illegal actions against high-level officials. All those practices could only be pursued by those believing they lived in impunity.
He said he did not need to cite the many practices by the Israeli occupying authorities included in the report, because the information was well-documented in United Nations texts and in the media. He could cite by example crimes against humanity perpetrated in Gaza, as well as crimes against Palestinian women. The forceful expulsion, assassination, and desecration of holy sites and other practices were grave violations of human rights, and the suppression of the Palestinian people constituted attempts to obliterate the Arab identity in Palestine, which was pursued in an organized manner. That was an example of the racist approach pursued by the Israeli forces. The Islamic holy site of Al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem had been desecrated and “Judaized”. The Israeli authorities continued to violate Islamic shrines. He rejected any measure that could undermine Palestinian authority in al-Quds al-Sharif, and condemned the actions of the occupying Power, including those that jeopardized the demographic character of al-Quds al-Sharif.
The withdrawal of all Zionist occupying forces from the Arab territories was necessary, he stressed, calling on the international community and the Security Council to shoulder their responsibility to end the basic reason for the crises in the Middle East. There would be no peace in the Middle East as long as the occupation continued.
MOHAMMAD AL-MUHAIRY (United Arab Emirates) noted upon close examination that Israel had dangerous practices against civilians as part of its plan to take over land. That had involved many military attacks on Palestinian towns and villages, arbitrary bombing, civilian arrests, and house demolitions. Many Palestinians had been deprived of their right to build, trees had been chopped, and restrictions had been imposed, including 505 barriers. The creation of arbitrary inspection points hampered movement, impeding access to hospitals and schools. Changing the names of streets, from Arabic to Jewish was another display of Israel’s constant violation of human rights. Israel deprived people of necessary assistance, especially energy supplies for hospitals and other facilities. That had led to the destruction of the Palestinian economy and unemployment, plunging more to life below the poverty threshold. Water problems had compounded the problem, all of which had led to malnutrition, disease, and problems with water.
He pointed to the many prisoners in Israeli prisons, including women, children and persons with disabilities, who had not been accused of anything and were subjected to torture. An unknown number of Palestinians were unidentified, in military morgues or in cemeteries. Those “facts” constituted human rights violations. The United Arab Emirates was concerned about the human rights violations and the extent to which Israel resorted to take Palestinian territory and their resources. On top of that was the separation wall, which continued even after the International Court of Justice’s opinion. That wall had rendered Palestinian areas into small isolated areas and prevented the establishment of a feasible Palestinian State.
There was no legal basis for any of those Israeli actions, and he implored the international community to act immediately to end those practices and crimes, which were crimes against humanity. He asked Israel to respect the United Nations Charter its resolutions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention. He stressed the mandate of UNRWA and to register the damages caused since the building of the separation wall. He concluded that the United Nations and international community must protect the Palestinians from the Israeli occupation of their lands. He hoped the General Assembly would strengthen the work of the Special Committee so that it could continue its detailed coverage.
IDRIS LATRECHE (Algeria) said Israel refused to cooperate with the Special Committee, and that constant challenge to the international community was unacceptable. The work of the Special Committee was indispensable in helping to end such practices that were in flagrant violation of international legality. Israel continued with violations in the occupied Arab territories, and the Special Committee’s report found that human rights in the territories and the rights of freedom of movement and expression were flouted on a daily basis by the occupying Tower. The situation in the Gaza strip was very serious from all points of view. The inhabitants continued to suffer the consequences of the Israeli blockade that restricted the import of building materials necessary to re-establish demolished infrastructure, and contested the right of young Palestinians to visit their families in Jerusalem or the West Bank, or attend university in other parts of the Territory. The recent aggression against the Freedom Flotilla was an example of the collective punishment inflicted by the occupying Power, which was also preventing access to humanitarian aid. He underlined that the so-called alleviation measures by Israel would not change that fact. In order for the population to live normally, Israel must now respect the obligations imposed on it by international law and lift its illegal and immoral blockade.
He said that along with forced displacements and the building of the separation wall, Israel was continuing with its settlement policy, which was a major stumbling block for peace. Despite the appeals of the international community and the outlook for peace and security, Israel refused to stop the settlements, and the annexed Syrian Golan continued to suffer the same unacceptable attacks against its identity and its Arab nature. The living conditions worsened daily, including arbitrary detentions and arrests, and an Israeli identity was being forced on the area. Those practices were of serious concern for his delegation. Israel’s rejection of any initiative to solve the crisis and its refusal to re-launch negotiations were unacceptable. His delegation was attached to a peaceful and negotiated settlement, but that required the end of the occupation and the withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands, cessation of all settlement activities in Arab territories, suspension of the separation wall’s construction, and renunciation of all policies that “mortgaged” the peace process. The Security Council — the body granted by the Charter to maintain international peace and security — must exercise its prerogative to end the culture of impunity.
MAJDI RAMADAN (Lebanon), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that whether now or later, the end of the occupation and the return of refugees would remain a doorway to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and the necessary avenue for Israel to be accepted by all those who adhered to the rule of law in the international community. However, the Israeli “logic of force”, rather than “force of law”, remained through illegal practices, namely settlements, house demolitions and evictions. The Israeli Government continued to ignore, not only the international consensus on a “two-State” solution, but also dozens of resolutions by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Furthermore, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, determined the outcome of negotiations in advance of setting its goal to be the recognition of “Israel as a Jewish State”. The amendments to the Israeli citizenship law and demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State were two sides of the same coin that not only aimed to undermine the right of return of refugees, but threatened the status of Palestinian citizens inside Israel itself.
“It must be really powerful to be an Israeli soldier, as there is almost nothing that you can’t do. You can go out and target civilian areas and kill without distinction between civilians and armed forces,” he said, adding that soldiers could detain Arabs for unlimited periods, unleash fury to terrorize Palestinians, and desecrate religious sites. As documented, the occupation soldiers continued to violate human rights; the crimes were endless. In any case, no peace could be imagined as long as the blockade was imposed on Gaza and the Strip was bombed to kill, under the pretext the inhabitants there were “terrorists.” In fact, Israel did not impose a blockade from outside, but from inside, too. The latest 2010 report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Gaza explained that Israel prevented Palestinians from accessing 17 per cent of land on the Strip, including 35 per cent of the land viable for agricultural use. He renewed the commitment to the force of law and to a settlement, with a just and comprehensive solution to Middle East conflict.
WALEED AL-SAIYANI (Yemen), aligning his statement with that made on behalf of with Non-Aligned Movement, said that the inhumane Israeli practices against the Palestinian population and other Arabs of the occupied territories had led to serious deterioration of human rights. The fourth decade had elapsed, and Israel continued its occupation in violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, flouting the rules of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Israel continued the construction of the separation wall, in total disregard for international legality. It also continued its aggressive policy of collective punishment, closures, and transformation of Gaza into the biggest prison in the world.
The report, he noted, emphasized that the human rights situation was adversely affected by the Israeli aggression in Gaza, which had claimed the lives of more than 1,420 Palestinians, injuring more than 5,000, and displacing some 20,000 families. Reports also documented Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians, in actions that had been described as war crimes. That required action by the Security Council. Efforts were also needed to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, as was renewed support to the Palestinian people, their struggle for independence, and the establishment of an independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. He condemned Israel’s attempts to annex the occupied Syrian Golan and exploit its resources, and reaffirmed the importance of ending all settlement activities and the withdrawal by Israel from all occupied territories, including the Syrian Golan and Lebanese territories.
BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA (Nigeria) said that lasting peace could not exist in conditions where a segment of the population was treated sub-humanly. Israel should be called upon to refrain from practices that could undermine the peace process in the Middle East. Particularly abhorrent was the intensification of Government-initiated construction projects for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. Israel must exercise the utmost restraint, including by extending the moratorium on the construction of settlements, which had ended on 30 September. Such a measure would bolster confidence between the parties and demonstrate Israel’s seriousness about the peace process.
Continuing, he said that the Israeli blockade of Gaza had fuelled misery. The marginal increase in goods and materials entering Gaza had barely impacted on the humanitarian situation. Israel should upwardly review the list of goods to enter through the Kareem Shalom crossing. Similarly abhorrent was Israel’s discriminatory allocation of water resources in favour of Jewish settlers in the Syrian Golan. Moreover, the best guarantee towards lasting peace was not the firing of rockets at innocent civilians, but rather, a comprehensive strategy that compelled Israel to comply with United Nations resolutions in return for its recognition of the sovereign right to exist side-by-side with Palestine and her Arab neighbours. The Middle East Quartet must be given the necessary support to succeed. Both Israelis and Palestinians must pursue the two-State goal with determination and commitment.
OMBENI Y. SEFUE (United Republic of Tanzania), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concerns over forced evictions and demolitions, as well as the construction of the separation wall. All of those actions were obstacles to the peace process. He deplored the Israeli use of force on the basis of various instruments including, international law, the Road Map, and the Arab Peace Initiative. He supported the desire of Israeli citizens to live in peace, as well the quest for a two-State solution. He renewed his support and solidarity with the Palestinians, in finding a just peace.
Statement on UNRWA
FAISAL EBRAHIM AL-ZAYANI (Bahrain), paying tribute to the role played by UNRWA, expressed appreciation for its hard work in preserving its services to the Palestinian refugees and in supporting the Palestinians in every way possible. The Agency’s adoption of the mid-term strategy, enforced since January, aimed at achieving success in the three-year programme spearheaded by Filippo Grandi in the reform process of UNRWA. The programme had already been successful in the field of human resource management.
Meanwhile, he said, the Agency’s vulnerable financial situation in 2009 was truly alarming and would likely obstruct the tasks aimed at implementing the human development mandate. The Agency had expressed its concern over the lack of long-term financing. The critical financial situation was evident in the under-financing of the regular budget and flash goals, the decrease in working capital, as well as the accumulated deficits in some projects. All of that made it impossible to satisfy the increasing needs of the refugees, increasing in number owing to natural growth. Financial and operational difficulties should not be allowed to undermine the historical achievements of the Agency. The Organization must concentrate first on providing it with moral and financial support.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that regrettably, the statement from Israel was typical. The delegation distorted and never addressed reality, trying to promote itself as giving importance to human rights. However, everyone knew about the brutal and continued violations day in and day out against the inhabitants of the Palestinian Territory and East Jerusalem. Those had been documented in resolutions and by human rights organizations, and even Israeli soldiers. Violations had also been documented by United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the Special Committee.
She provided a quick record of Israel’s human rights violations, saying that those represented the worst form of terrorism. She asked how it could deny the facts as they existed. If Israel cared about human rights, she asked how it could be that it cared about hurting peace activists who were trying to deliver humanitarian aid, inflicted abuse on prisoners, colonized land by building settlements, or constructed a wall that imprisoned Palestinians. She asked how, if it cared, it could place hundreds of checkpoints and carry out violent punishment, emanating from a blockade of 1.5 million people. She asked how, if it cared, it could only allow 25 per cent of essential goods into that enclave and disallow building materials.
The one question to Israel was — what other country for 40 years had existed while at the same time denying freedom and persisting in colonizing practices? The answer was “none”. She asked what respected judiciary system sanctioned torture and continued occupation. “Let’s get the facts correct,” she urged: Israel was a violator of international law, and must be compelled to admit its crimes and wrongdoings. Israel’s continuation in attacking the Special Committee must be condemned. It was the duty of the Special Committee to document all practices, and to do so until the termination of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
The representative of Syria, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, noted the statement of the Israel authorities, saying that the lies and allegations that pretended that Israel cared about human rights were a “desperate campaign” to distract the international community from the crimes and holocaust day in and out. It seemed that the representative of the occupying Power pretended that its Government was democratic, and thus, deliberately ignored and admitted that that Government that lectured about human rights and exerted itself as a Jewish State ran counter to democracy. It was really strange that the representative of an occupying Power talked about human rights, while forbidding the Special Committee from visiting the occupied territories or investigating the crimes committed by Israel on a regular basis.
The representative said that the Special Committee had been described as politicized, however, but were all the statements by that august body politicized, including those made by Friends of Israel? The representative of the occupying Power had also talked about the arrest of soldier Shalit, but had ignored the arrests of more than 1,000 Palestinians, including women, children and those who suffered from chronic disease. Regarding the huge undeniable facts, including the terrorist path embarked upon by the Israeli Zionists, the history of humanity had never seen such ideological, racial, fatal, bloody terrorism than that of the Israelis against the Palestinians struggling against the occupation.
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