26 February 2020

Français

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held separate interactive dialogues on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on ensuring accountability for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, and on the oral update of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.

Presenting the High Commissioner’s report, Ilze Brands Kehris, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said that between November 2018 and 31 October 2019, 131 Palestinians, including 23 children, had been killed by Israeli security forces, whereas 11 Israelis had been killed by Palestinians. Impunity prevailed with regard to the unlawful use of force by the Israeli security forces, confirming a worrying trend. Human rights violations had further fuelled the cycle of violence, Ms. Brands Kehris noted.

Israel was not present to take the floor as the concerned country.

State of Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, noted that Israel’s actions went against the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, which stated that all crimes committed against Palestinians could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. It therefore called on signatories of the Geneva Convention to invoke articles 146, 147 and 148 and apply relevant sanctions.

In the interactive dialogue that followed, speakers voiced alarm over the findings of the Commission of Inquiry. While they said that Israel had the right to self-defence, they condemned its excessive use of force and disproportionate attacks on civilian protesters in Gaza. Speakers welcomed the long-awaited publication of the database of business enterprises active in Israeli settlements. They noted that tackling impunity had to be the highest priority because it was precisely the lack of accountability that undermined chances for sustainable peace and security. Some rejected the so-called “Deal of the Century” as another attempt to violate the Palestinian people’s human rights, including the right to self-determination, noting that the only viable solution to the conflict was the two-State solution.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, European Union, Qatar on behalf of the Arab Group, Bangladesh, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Slovenia, South Africa, Pakistan, Luxembourg, Namibia, Cuba, Malaysia, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Ireland, Egypt, Russian Federation, Syria, Iran, Spain, Mozambique, Turkey, Venezuela, Algeria, Indonesia, Lebanon, China, Libya, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Somalia, France, Albania, and Oman.

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Institute for NGO Research, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Palestinian Return Centre Ltd., United Nations Watch, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man, and Mauritanian Association for the Promotion of Human Rights.

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The meetings of the forty-third regular session of the Human Rights Council can be followed on the webcast of UN Web TV.

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Interactive Dialogue on the Report on Ensuring Accountability and Justice for All Violations of International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem

Report

The Council has before it Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/43/21).

Opening Remarks

ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER, President of the Human Rights Council, noted that a report would be introduced on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, pursuant to resolution S-28/1 of the Human Rights Council.

Presentation of Report

ILZE BRANDS KEHRIS, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, introducing the report, said it was an update on matters related to accountability for alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including in the context of large-scale civilian protests. The report took into account recommendations of the independent Commission of Inquiry established by the Council. Between November 2018 and 31 October 2019, 131 Palestinians, including 23 children, were killed by Israeli security forces, and 11 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

During demonstrations known as the Great March of Return at the Israel-Gaza fence, which continued to take place almost every Friday, 39 Palestinians, including 12 children, were killed and 2,078 Palestinians, including 577 children, were injured with live ammunition; 110 paramedics and 62 journalists were also injured. In the West Bank, during the reporting period, 35 Palestinians were killed, including six children. As for the escalation of hostilities in Gaza in 2014, the lack of accountability had persisted. Impunity prevailed with regard to accountability for the unlawful use of force by Israeli security forces, outside the context of hostilities, confirming a worrying trend highlighted by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner. Such human rights violations further fuelled the cycle of violence.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Israel was not present in the room to take the floor as the concerned country.
State of Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, said the report outlined Israel’s actions in recent months that had led to the killing of 121 Palestinians, including five women and 21 children. In addition, many thousands of people were injured, including health workers and journalists. Last week more killings along the contested border were carried out by the Israeli army, with dehumanizing actions such as collecting the corpses of those killed with bulldozers. Israel’s actions went against the recommendations of the Committee’s report on the conflict, which stated that all crimes committed against Palestinians could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The 13-year blockade of Gaza went against article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As the international community had not fulfilled its obligations to uphold human rights, Palestine would continue to call on the international community to urge Israel to respect the rights of the Palestinian people. State of Palestine noted that speakers over the previous two days had all called on Israel to respect Palestinian rights, however, no concrete measures were being taken. He called on signatories to the Geneva Convention to uphold the requirements of articles 146, 147 and 148 of that Convention, which called for sanctions to be brought where serious violations of the Convention had occurred.

Discussion

Speakers were alarmed by the findings of the Commission of Inquiry, as they shed light on the gravity of the situation. Israel had a right to self-defense but excessive use of force and disproportionate attacks on civilian protesters in Gaza were condemned. The use of unjustified lethal force had resulted in 2,078 Palestinians being injured with live ammunition, including 577 children, while 131 Palestinians were killed during the reporting period by the Israeli security forces. Medical staff and journalists covering the protests were also injured. This constituted a great breach of international humanitarian and international human rights law. The use of incendiary devices during demonstrations was also condemned. The Israeli occupation of Jerusalem was seen as another flagrant violation of international law.

Speakers welcomed the long-awaited publication of the report on the database on business enterprises involved in Israeli settlements. The lack of accountability and the persistence of impunity was deplorable. The complete impunity of Israel was considered a dangerous reality and it further proved that agenda item 7 had to stay on the Council’s agenda. Tackling impunity had to be the highest priority as it was precisely the lack of accountability that compromised chances for sustainable peace and security. The “Deal of the Century” was rejected as it was seen as another attempt to violate the Palestinian people’s human rights, including the right to self-determination. Some delegations inquired about what could be done to advance the protection of human rights of Palestinians in the current context.

Delegations further agreed that the report contained important recommendations on how to ensure the rights of Palestinians during the worsening situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Delegations echoed that prompt investigations were needed for all violations in the occupied Palestinian territory and victims had to have access to justice. All parties were called upon to protect children during the conflict. Israel was called upon to cease the use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters and to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms and United Nations bodies. Israel was also called upon to end the 12-year long blockade of Gaza, as it was one of the factors that had triggered the Great March of Return demonstrations and was seen as a policy of collective punishment.

Delegations said the Council had an ethical responsibility towards the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination and was thus urged to take actions to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions and relevant resolutions of the Security Council, General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. The international community was called upon to help bring lasting peace to the region, including by implementing recommendations that the High Commissioner made in the report. States affirmed that the only viable solution to the conflict was through a two-State solution and the creation of an independent State of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The international community also had to allow Palestinians to return to their land. The Security Council should facilitate the peace process and any agreement had to take into account the views of both sides.

Concluding Remarks

ILZE BRANDS KEHRIS, United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, noted that in upholding human rights, systems needed to be put in place to monitor human rights, and seek redress where they were breached. This included ensuring redress for victims, and full reparations where appropriate. She called on all parties to take these measures step by step. With regard to the situation of healthcare in Gaza, she shared the concerns set out by speakers regarding the access to adequate healthcare both within Gaza, and access to health facilities outside Gaza where needed. She noted that the first year of the Great March for Return saw many deaths from live ammunition, in breach of international rules. She also noted that as of January 2020, 40 per cent of the medicines on the essential list were completely out of stock. Israeli authorities only allowed a 69 per cent approval rate for Palestinians to travel outside the territory to access healthcare. At the same time, the policy by the Palestinian authorities to prevent referrals to Israeli hospitals was also harmful to Palestinians.

For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC20/010E