Accelerated Settlement-Building, Home Demolitions Driving Atmosphere of Despair, Hopelessness among Palestinian People, Fourth Committee Hears

GA/SPD/655
7 November 2017
Seventy-second Session, 26th Meeting (AM)

Accelerated Settlement-Building, Home Demolitions Driving Atmosphere of Despair, Hopelessness among Palestinian People, Fourth Committee Hears

Chair of Special Committee on Israeli Practices Affecting Arab Human Rights Says It Received No Response to Request for Access

A sharp increase in settlement construction activity fuelled by the passing of a “regularization law” and combined with the demolition of Palestinian homes had led to an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness among Palestinians in the occupied territories, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today.

As the Committee considered 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, Ahamed Lebbe Sabarullah Khan (Sri Lanka), that panel’s Chair, cited the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories, and the risk of forcible transfer confronting vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin communities.

Expressing regret that Israel had not responded to the Special Committee’s request for access to the occupied territories, he noted that settlement construction continued in both the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan.  That increasing activity, combined with the passage early in 2017 of the so‑called “regularization law”, demonstrated the absence of Israeli compliance with international law.  The measure retroactively legalized previously unrecognized West Bank outposts under domestic law.

He went on to state that home demolitions were continuing at the highest rate since the United Nations started collecting such data, and included the demolition of donor‑funded humanitarian facilities serving vulnerable communities.  The demolitions contravened Israel’s obligation, as the occupying Power, to provide for the humanitarian needs of the protected population, he said, citing the situation of the Khan al‑Amar Bedouin community as particularly concerning.  Israel had issued demolition orders for all existing structures there, including a donor‑funded school, he added, stressing the need to rescind all demolition, eviction and seizure orders immediately.

Regarding the blockade of Gaza, he expressed particular concern that the electricity crisis it had created was having an impact on the right of Gaza residents to good health, and contributing to deteriorating sanitation conditions.  Environmental concerns, including limited access to shrinking water supplies, were also worrying, he said, adding that Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were also in a precarious position given increasing restrictions on their movements and their very existence.

Craig Mokhiber, Director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presented five reports on behalf of the Assistant Secretary‑General for Human Rights.  The reports concluded that settlement activity remained at the core of a range of human rights violations in the occupied territories, he said.  They also concluded that Israel must cease all activities contributing to a coercive environment and to the risk of forcible transfer, including by discontinuing support for initiatives by private settler organizations aimed at seizing Palestinian properties.

Indeed, the Observer for the State of Palestine underlined that not only was Israel pursuing settlement expansion, it had escalated that activity four‑fold in 2017 compared to 2016, which itself had seen a 40 per cent increase.

Lebanon’s representative agreed, pointing out that Israeli authorities had granted thousands of building permits in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of 2017.

Venezuela’s representative, speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, said Israel had used several so‑called legal and administrative measures to expand its control and advance its attempts to annex more Palestinian territory.  Its methods included declaring certain “State land”, seizing land for archaeological excavations, creating national parks and developing tourism centres.

Syria’s representative emphasized that Israel would never have gone as far as it had done in terms of its expansion and settlement policies, were it not for the protection provided by certain accomplice States, who bore responsibility for the repercussions arising from Israel’s actions.

Other speakers today included representatives of Saudi Arabia (for the League of Arab States), Iran, Qatar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Maldives, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria and Ecuador, as well as the European Union delegation.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 November, to continue its general debate on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.

Introduction of Reports

AHAMED LEBBE SABARULLAH KHAN (Sri Lanka), Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, presented that panel’s report (document A/72/296).  He expressed regret that, as in years past, the Government of Israel had not responded to a request for access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  As a result, the Special Committee had visited Amman, Jordan, from 12‑14 July 2017, having held prior consultations with Member States in Geneva from 20‑21 March, he said.

He went on to state that, based on briefings and testimonies highlighted in the report, issues of concern included the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories, the demolition of homes and the risk of forcible transfer faced by vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin communities in Area C.  Amidst reports of ongoing violations, the Special Committee had been told of an atmosphere that was increasingly hostile to civil society, and to the essential work of human rights defenders and journalists, he said.

Regarding the blockade of Gaza, he said he was especially concerned that the electricity crisis it had created was having an impact on the right of Gaza residents to health care amid deteriorating sanitation conditions.  The Special Committee had also heard that settlement activity was continuing in both the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan.  The increase in settlement activity, combined with the passage of the so‑called “regularization law” earlier in 2017 — retroactively legalizing previously unrecognized West Bank outposts under domestic law — demonstrated Israel’s continued lack of compliance with international law, he emphasized, noting that environmental concerns, including limited access to shrinking water supplies, were also worrying.

Turning to the practice of demolishing Palestinian homes, he said 2016 had seen the highest rate of demolitions since the United Nations started collecting data, and they affected donor‑funded humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities.  The demolitions contravened Israel’s obligation, as the occupying Power, to provide for the humanitarian needs of the protected population, he stressed.  The situation of the Khan al Amar Bedouin community was particularly concerning because Israel had issued demolition orders for all existing structures there, including a donor‑funded school.  Emphasizing the need to rescind all demolition, eviction and seizure orders, he said Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were also in a precarious position amid increasing restrictions on their movement and very existence.

Also of growing concern to the Palestinian community were administrative detention orders, whereby detainees were held without charge or trial and could be held indefinitely, he said.  Often they were never informed of the evidence or allegations against them, nor given a chance to challenge their detention in court.  The Special Committee noted that 330 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli detention and was disturbed to hear accounts of ill‑treatment.  Noting with particular concern reports of excessive force used by Israeli forces, he called on them to exercise restraint and to respond proportionately to perceived threats.  Testimonies heard by the Special Committee indicated that, in general, the worsening human rights situation had led to an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair, he said, underlining that a renewed peace process was essential.

CRAIG MOKHIBER, Director, New York Office, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), delivered a statement on behalf of the Assistant Secretary‑General for Human Rights, and introduced the following reports of the Secretary‑General: Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (document A/72/296); Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories (document A/72/314); and Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, covering the period 1 June, 2016, to 31 May, 2017 (document A/72/564, to be issued).

He said the information contained in the latter documents was based on monitoring and other information‑gathering activities carried out by OHCHR and other entities.  They included in‑depth discussion of the forced‑eviction cases faced by two Bedouin and herder communities of Area C, he added.  The report concluded that settlement activities remained at the core of a range of human rights violations in the occupied territories.  It stated that the Israeli authorities must cease all activities contributing to a coercive environment and the risk of forcible transfers, including by discontinuing support for initiatives by private settler organizations aimed at seizing Palestinian properties, he said.

Presenting the report of the Secretary‑General on Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem (document A/72/565, to be issued), he said that it focused on the unlawful use of force, detention and collective punishment, as well as the continuing lack of accountability for violations of international human rights law.  That lack of accountability for crimes, which contravened international legal obligations, was a major driver of ongoing violations, fuelling resentment and spurring further conflict, he emphasized.  Finally, he introduced the report of the Secretary‑General on the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/72/538), saying it summarized responses received to a request for information about steps taken or envisaged regarding implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/99.

Interactive Dialogue

The representative of Nicaragua asked for more detail about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The representative of Syria asked why the report did not reflect the position of the Secretariat and the Secretary‑General on the situation and suffering of the Palestinian people.

The representative of Indonesia asked about the conditions endured by detainees in Israeli jails, in particular the situation of children.  Was the United Nations effective in investigating human rights violations in the occupied territories?

Mr. KHAN (Sri Lanka), Special Committee Chair, said in response to the representative of Nicaragua that violations of international humanitarian law and the escalation of hostilities had become acute and were further compounded by the power crisis in Gaza, where residents had as little as two hours of electricity at a time.  The briefings heard by the Special Committee indicated that the high unemployment statistics were contributing to hopelessness among Gaza residents.  The recent mass hunger strike had been in response to Israel’s policy of administrative detention, the orders for which covered six months and could be renewed indefinitely.  There were currently 330 children held in Israeli prisons, three of whom were on administrative detention orders, he said, citing reports to the Special Committee indicating that children were subjected to ill‑treatment and denied due process.

Mr. MOKHIBER, Director of the OHCHR New York Office, said in response to Syria, that the Secretary‑General’s office promoted awareness of the Special Committee’s reports, not only to Member States, but also to the wider international community.  Regarding prison conditions, he said the thousands of women and men in Israel’s jails constituted the highest number of imprisoned Palestinians in years.  The hunger strike had been a response to the conditions there and the Government of Israel should go beyond immediate negotiations and address the underlying human rights grievances causing the protests.  Israel’s administrative detention policies were in violation of international law, he emphasized, also expressing concern about the trend of imposing prison sentences on children, including in East Jerusalem.

The representative of Venezuela expressed indignation against the occupying Power’s treatment of the Palestinian people and condemned their collective punishment.  Noting that such crimes continued without punishment of the occupying force for violations of human rights, he asked what reactions the Special Committee had received from the occupying Power in response to requests for information.  How would it categorize the occupying Power’s attitude towards its activities and towards international law?  He also questioned conditions in the prisons where children were held, and asked what impact such practices were having on Palestinian children.

The Observer for the State of Palestine, citing the report’s reference to Israeli policies and actions creating a coercive environment, asked the Special Committee Chair to provide specific examples.  In reference to arbitrary detentions and the arrests of Palestinians, he added that Israeli military courts could not be considered legitimate.

The representative of Algeria sought details on the question of impunity, asking how the Palestinian people could be protected, including by the Security Council.

Mr. KHAN (Sri Lanka) responded by saying the Special Committee had requested access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory but had received no response, and was thus unable to gain access.  Concerning the expansion of settlements, he said they were considered illegal under international law, while pointing out the growing number of approvals for settlement units in 2017 and 2016 compared to the previous two years.  It had been reported that in July the Israeli Government had begun constructing more than 7,000 units in East Jerusalem, he recalled.  As noted in several submissions, further construction had a detrimental impact on Palestinian human rights beyond the immediate infringement.  The resulting restrictions on their movements were significant because settlement construction included the building of roads that were only accessible to Israelis, he said.  Checkpoints installed near them made movement difficult and could become flashpoints for violence.  Those developments should be particularly concerning in light of Israel’s recent legislation that indicated its intention to annex the Occupied Palestinian Territory in violation of international law.

Mr. MOKHIBER noted that the recommendations of many human rights bodies remained unimplemented, including those of intergovernmental bodies with human rights mandates.  The lack of respect for international human rights law was a driver of frustration and conflict as Palestinians continued to bear the brunt of punitive Israeli practices and policies, he said.  On the lack of accountability and the excessive use of force, he said there had been alleged attacks throughout the reporting period.  The actions of Israel’s security forces had frequently constituted excessive use of force and extrajudicial killings were often suspected, he said, outlining some examples of such actions.  Only one case during that period had led to the trial and conviction of a soldier, who had received a lenient sentence.  Tackling impunity must be accorded the highest priority, he stressed.

General Debate

MAJED BAMYA, Observer for the State of Palestine, rejected characterization of the reports under consideration as “one‑sided” or so‑called “Israel‑bashing”, describing them as factual, well‑documented and reflecting the actual and painful reality on the ground.  Despite the explicit demands of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) for the immediate and complete cessation of settlement activity, Israel continued its pursuit of settlements and destruction of any two‑State solution, he said.  Moreover, Israel had escalated its activities four‑fold in 2017 compared to 2016, which itself had seen a 40 per cent increase in settlement activity.  Other Israeli measures aimed at creating a coercive environment in order to forcibly displace Palestinian families included the continual threat of forced transfers, with Bedouin refugee communities at particular risk, as well as the confiscation of humanitarian aid projects and exploitation of the occupied territory’s natural resources, among other actions.

Compounding those actions had been the violence and terror routinely committed against Palestinians by the occupying army and illegal settlers, including a shoot‑to‑kill policy even where there was no imminent threat, he said.  The arrest and detention of thousands of civilians also persisted, leaving a traumatic impact on those held in captivity and on their families.  Israel also continued to carry out night raids, arresting children, at least 330 children of whom were currently held in Israeli prisons.  All such illegal policies and practices were accompanied by “an unending series of collective‑punishment measures affecting every aspect of life of the occupied people”; including the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, where 2 million Palestinians had been inhumanely deprived, isolated, impoverished and traumatized for 10 years.  Poverty and food insecurity were rampant in the enclave, with unemployment at 42 per cent, he said, describing the rate as among the world’s highest.  The crisis was “purely man‑made”, he added.

He went on to state that whereas his delegation did not doubt the overwhelming international support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, “Israeli impunity has allowed it to persist in its denial of Palestinian rights and violations of international law, a situation that will, if not urgently addressed, destroy any prospect for peace”.  Individual and collective action was vital for deterring further violations, securing justice and preserving future generations from oppression, subjugation and forced exile, he emphasized.  Such action would open a new chapter wherein Palestinian‑Israeli peace and coexistence would be possible.  Only an end to Israel’s colonization of Palestinian lands and an end to all other illegal policies and practices, he stressed, could halt the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, resuscitate the viability of the two‑State solution within the 1967 borders, and create the conditions necessary to realizing a just and lasting solution.

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said he deeply regretted that the Special Committee’s inquiries continued to yield negative results, especially regarding the escalation of violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and the dire ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.  Israel had refused yet again to cooperate with the Special Committee, preventing it from observing the human rights situation, from consulting with Israeli authorities and from gaining access to victims in the occupied territories, he noted.  Condemning Israel’s continued settlement construction, he said its illegal colonization measures — construction of the wall, confiscation of land and property, exploitation of natural resources, demolition of homes and forced displacement — had exacerbated conditions on the ground, further destabilizing the situation and escalating already high tensions.

He also expressed concern about the dire ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza resulting from Israel’s illegal blockade and military aggressions.  That situation constituted a grave violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, requiring immediate attention, he emphasized.  Urgent efforts were also needed to alleviate the hardships of Palestinians in Gaza, including the internally displaced and those suffering food insecurity, loss of livelihoods and widespread poverty.  Noting that Israel had used several so‑called legal and administrative measures to expand its control and advance its attempts to annex more Palestinian territory, he said they included declaring certain areas “State Land”, seizing land for archaeological excavations, creating national parks, and developing tourist activities.  The Group of 77 and China condemned Israel’s illegal exploitation of natural resources, which denied Palestinians their right to development and rendered them dependent for water and energy resources.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, said that Israeli forces continued their violations of human rights, including by using lethal force against Palestinian civilians.  Calling for the full withdrawal of Israelis from all Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan and Lebanese territories, he said the borders determined in 1967, and the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian State, must be respected, he stressed.  Israel continued to turn a blind eye to peace efforts, instead pursuing settlement policies that risked thwarting any opportunity to seek a two‑State solution, he warned, denouncing its ongoing aggression against Palestinians as well its violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.

Citing the growing international consensus that Israel’s settlement activity was in violation of international law, he emphasized the Arab League’s rejection of attempts to effect demographic changes by demolishing homes and confiscating Palestinian lands.  He called for the implementation of all Security Council resolutions, and urged Member States not to transfer their embassies to Jerusalem.  In the face of the international community’s inability to find a solution to the conflict, the Arab League would continue to advocate for the basic rights of the Palestinian people, he stressed, warning that the escalation of tensions could have far‑reaching repercussions.

GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union delegation, reiterated the bloc’s commitment to a two‑State solution as the only way to bring about the lasting peace and security that both Israelis and Palestinians deserved.  The European Union deplored and strongly opposed Israel’s settlement policy, which was illegal under international law.  As reaffirmed by Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), it threatened the viability of a two‑State solution and the possibility of the Palestinian people fulfilling their right to self‑determination, he said.  The European Union welcomed the agreement signed in Cairo on 12 October and Egypt’s continuing engagement, he said, adding that if fully implemented, that agreement could constitute an important step towards Palestinian unity under a single, legitimate and democratic Palestinian National Authority, he said.

The unsustainable situation in Gaza and recent tensions in East Jerusalem underlined the need for a political horizon, he noted.  He expressed concern about the extensive recourse by Israel to administrative detention without formal charge.  Furthermore, the European Union was also concerned about the high numbers of Palestinian children that Israel was holding in detention, and about persistent reports of their ill‑treatment during their arrest, transfer and interrogation in the West Bank.  He called upon Israel to cooperate with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the rights of children in Israeli military custody were upheld at all times.

HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the report’s findings on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  They showed that children comprised about one third of total Palestinians cruelly killed by the occupying Power during the 2016‑2017 period, he said.  The illegal and inhumane land and sea blockade of Gaza continued to have a negative effect on Gaza’s entire civilian population, he said, adding that the blockade and all closures should be lifted.  Iran condemned the illegal expansion of settlements and confiscation of land by the occupier regime in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan, in violation of the occupier’s obligations under international law, he said.

ABDULRAHMAN YAAQOB Y.A. AL-HAMADI (Qatar), associating himself with the League of Arab States and the Non‑Aligned Movement, called for the opening of a political horizon that could lead to a lasting peace in accordance with the two‑State solution.  Such negotiations could lead to the settlement of the final status question and the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian State.  In the meantime, however, Qatar called for accelerated implementation of the General Assembly resolutions from its special session calling for Israel to respect the Geneva Convention to protect civilians, which was applicable in the Palestinian case.  He recalled that the Secretary‑General’s report on Israeli settlements stated that the occupation represented a flagrant violation of the Palestinian people’s human rights because it involved forced displacement, confiscation of property and restrictions on access.  Noting that settlement activities had intensified further in 2017, he underlined that attempts to destroy the Arab portion of East Jerusalem, remove Palestinians from the city’s demographic composition, impede access to holy sites and violate their sanctity all constituted violations.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had deteriorated further since a year ago, as demonstrated by the expansion of Israel’s settlement policy.  He emphasized that his delegation was particularly concerned about apparent apartheid policies that went as far as forcing Palestinians to use different roads from those used by Israelis.  Affirming Namibia’s commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people, he urged Israel to stop all settlement construction as well as the destruction of Palestinian homes and infrastructure.  The only way forward was a return to the negotiating table to ensure a two‑State solution, he added.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said his delegation wished the Secretary‑General’s report had been more comprehensive, professional and detailed, rather than merely relaying information provided by Syria, Bolivia and Iraq.  He emphasized that Israel would never have gone as far as it had done in terms of settlement‑expansion policies, were it not for the protection of certain accomplice States that bore responsibility for the repercussions arising from Israel’s actions.  The occupying Power had been trying to alter the status of the Syrian Golan through repeated violations of human rights there, the imposition of Israeli nationality on Syrian people, and the denial of their right to remain in touch with their homeland, he asserted, adding that for more than 50 years, Israel had practiced a policy of collective isolation by imposing a blockade on many Arab towns in the occupied Syrian Golan.  The occupying Power was denying the inhabitants their right to build houses and even demolishing those that some had built under the pretext that the owners had no permits, he said.

In terms of culture, he continued, Israel had invaded archaeological sites and stolen antiquities, violated students’ rights by imposing its own school curricula and substituted its own teachers.  At the economic level, it had attempted to tighten its grip on lands and resources, confiscating more than three quarters of the Golan, and transforming most of its agricultural lands to military use, for dumping toxic waste, and for extracting resources, especially oil, in collaboration with American companies.  Israel also controlled ground water there, channelling it to Israeli settlements.  He warned that the repercussions from Israel’s actions would not be limited to the region, especially after its support for Al‑Nusra Front and other groups.  On 3 November, that group had launched an attack on the town of Hader in northern Golan, with the support and protection of Israeli forces, he said.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) said Israel continued to use force as a means to suppress the Palestinians, including by the use of extrajudicial executions on the part of its security and military forces.  More than 55 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces or by armed gangs of settlers in the course of 2017, he noted.  Illegal settlement activity continued unabated in complete disregard of international law and United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), he said.  Since the beginning of 2017, Israeli authorities had granted thousands of permits for settlement construction in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, he added, emphasizing that the Israeli Government fully subscribed to that illegal policy, “making the possibility of establishing an independent and viable Palestinian State dimmer by the day”.  Regarding Gaza, he pointed out that 80 per cent of its inhabitants relied on humanitarian aid to survive, with 47 per cent suffering food insecurity.  The international community must compel Israel to lift its illegal blockade, he said, underlining that it was a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized the urgent need for a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian question.  That would only be achieved through tangible actions with clear deadlines, he said, expressing regret that seven decades after the creation of Israel, the Palestinian people still did not enjoy their basic human rights.  Describing that as a debt owed by the international community, he said it was regrettable that the United Nations had not granted the Palestinian people a full seat and the right to vote within the Organization.  Voicing his delegation’s full supporte for a two‑State solution, in accordance with the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, he urged the international community to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people by providing development financing to help their pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Stability in the Middle East would only be achieved through full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, he stressed.  In closing, he welcomed the signing of the intra‑Palestine union agreement as evidence of the goodwill and unity of the Palestinian people.

Ms. RASHEED (Maldives) noted that Israel continued to defy United Nations conventions and Security Council resolutions while violating the basic human rights of the Palestinians.  “We must not tolerate this injustice any longer,” she said, emphasizing that the international community must take assertive action and compel Israel to guarantee basic human rights for the Palestinians.  Israel must dismantle the separation wall in Gaza, halt the expansion of illegal settlements and cease the forced eviction of Palestinians from their properties, she emphasized, calling for an end to the prolonged illegal occupation, and reiterating calls for a two‑State solution.

Ms. NASSRULLAH (Iraq) said the occupying Power’s continuing illegal practices demonstrated its defiance of legitimate resolutions, urging the international community to compel that country to abide by the principles of international law.  The United Nations must exert pressure on Israel to allow the Special Committee to investigate all its practices.  That panel’s recent report referred to Israel’s continuing illegal practices, she noted, the foremost of those including the expansion of settlements, forced displacement, demolition of properties and the continuing siege of Gaza, among others.  The continuing demolition of Palestinian homes and the construction of settlements constituted clear violations of United Nations resolutions and relevant international conventions, she observed, stressing Iraq’s condemnation of such racist policies and all arbitrary practices and brutal measures against unarmed civilians.  It was necessary to compel the occupying Power to provide guarantees of prosecution and to end its attempts to change the demography of East Jerusalem, she insisted.

Ms. AL SABAH (Kuwait) said Israel had imposed several obstacles in order to undermine the Special Committee’s report.  That document referred to the systematic expansion of settlements, a deliberate and grave violation of international law, as well as Israel’s continued practice of defying the international community through such policies.  As such, Israel had proven that it was not credible and did not wish to reach a final and political solution, which would entail the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, she said.  Kuwait would renew its full support for the struggle of the Palestinian people, she added, calling for the release of all Palestinian detainees, and for a fact‑finding mission to visit Israeli prisons.  Denouncing the continuing siege of Gaza, she also called upon Israel to abide by the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding the illegitimacy of the separation wall.

IDRISS BOUASSILA (Algeria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, denounced the violation of the Palestinian people’s rights, including through the construction of settlements, settler violence, the abhorrent conditions of Israeli detention centres, unjust administrative detention policies, the detention of children, the excessive use of force by Israeli forces, the siege of Gaza and generally the absence of Israeli remorse.  It still turned a blind eye to the rights of civilians in occupied territories, in defiance of humanitarian law and the will of the international community, maintaining such policies without accountability and with impunity.  Israel’s settlement activity and its attempts to turn it into de facto policy were in clear violation of international law and United Nations resolutions, he stressed.

MARIO A. ZAMBRANO ORTIZ (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Palestinian people were suffering a permanent violation of their human rights.  Calling upon the Security Council to take specific action in relation to those violations, he rejected Israel’s settlement expansion policy, saying it threatened a two‑State solution.  The situation was a political conflict threatening international peace and security, he said, calling upon the United Nations to mobilize assistance for the Palestinian people and for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

For information media. Not an official record.