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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES

20 March 2018

The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on the situation of human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, after hearing the presentation of reports by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights under that agenda item. Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced six reports concerning the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories.  The reports focused on arbitrary detention of Palestinians, expansion of Israeli’s settlement activities, the High Commissioner’s update on accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and a database of business enterprises engaged in Israeli settlement activities.  Ms. Gilmore noted that after a decade of blockade, the situation in Gaza had deteriorated to a point that was unbearable for its inhabitants.  Two million Palestinians could not leave due to restrictions to freedom of movement, and they lived with electricity cuts lasting up to 20 hours a day.  The health system was on the verge of collapse, whereas the exchange of fire between armed groups in Gaza and in Israel had escalated in the past months. 

Israel was not present to take the floor as a concerned country. State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, noted that certain recommendations made in the reports were out of context and had not taken into account that the responsibilities and obligations fell upon the occupying power, Israel, which had subjugated the people under its occupation for 50 years.  The ongoing Israeli settlements were the problem. 

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, reminded that since the occupation of the Syrian Golan in 1967, Israel had continued to violate the Geneva Conventions and Security Council resolutions.  Terrorist groups had increased significantly with the aim to further entrench the occupation as a fait accompli.  Even more deplorable was the fact that Israel’s occupation was supported by the United States and their allies. 

In the ensuing discussion, speakers reminded that after 50 years of occupation, the list of human rights violations committed by the occupying power was getting longer and longer.  Israel had resumed its practice of collective punishment by withdrawing the residence rights of indigenous land owners in Jerusalem, and it had been able to do so because of the unilateral decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Speakers expressed concern that the recommendations in the reports did not adequately portray the entirely asymmetrical nature of the conflict with one party being occupied and besieged, and the other being the occupier and aggressor.  They were also concerned about certain shortfalls of the database of companies involved in settlement activities, and they urged the Council to publish the names of those companies.  Speakers deplored the reluctance of some countries to participate in the general debate on item 7 and emphasized that any efforts to remove or diminish the importance of the item on the Council’s agenda was unacceptable.  They called on Israel and its allies to refrain from breaking the longstanding consensus on the status of Jerusalem, and to end occupation in Palestinian territories and Syrian Golan.

Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, Kuwait on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bolivia on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa, Chile, Cuba, China, Qatar, Angola, Venezuela, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Ecuador, Slovenia, Namibia, Russian Federation, Libya, Bahrain, Sweden, Malaysia, Iran, Maldives, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Lebanon, Oman, Malta, Somalia, Luxembourg, Morocco, and Algeria.  

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Palestinian Return Centre, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man, Amuta for NGO Responsibility, Touro Law Center – the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, B’nai B’rith International, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Norwegian Refugee Council, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation of Journalists, World Jewish Congress, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Watch, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, World Muslim Congress, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Africa Culture Internationale, Association of World Citizens, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru,” IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, United Nations Watch, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP), Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, International-lawyers.org, Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA”, European of Jewish Students, and Meezaan Centre for Human Rights.

The Council will next hold a general debate on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of Human Rights Council resolutions S-9/1 and S-12/1 (A/HRC/37/38)

The Council has before it the Database of all business enterprises involved in the activities detailed in paragraph 96 of the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/37/39).

The Council has before it the Report of the Secretary-General on the human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/HRC/37/40).

The Council has before it the 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/37/41)

The Council has before it the Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/37/42) The Council has before it the report on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian GolanReport of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/37/43)

Presentation of Reports

KATE GILMORE, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced six reports under the Council’s agenda item 7, concerning the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories.  The first report focused on arbitrary detention and had been prepared with the Working Group on arbitrary detention, describing the arbitrary detention of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails, without fair trail guarantees.  The cases of continued arbitrary detention of children were particularly distressing.  The second report described the accelerated expansion of Israeli’s settlement enterprises and the human rights impact of such expansion, as was requested by resolution 34/31.  In 2017, settlement planning accelerated in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, with almost double the number of housing units.  The report detailed increasing numbers of legislative proposals suggesting there had been a move towards de facto annexation of parts of the West Bank. 

The third report was the High Commissioner’s tenth periodic report on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, providing an overview of recurring violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The report confirmed patterns of violations previously reported by the Secretary General and the High Commissioner.  The fourth report, presented pursuant to resolution 34/28, provided an update on accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and it considered the responsibilities of third States to ensure respect for those norms, particularly with respect to the 2014 escalation of hostilities in Gaza and the excessive use of force by Israeli law enforcement officials.  The fifth report detailed a database of business enterprises engaged in specific Israeli settlement activities.  Those activities, identified in the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements, were explicitly linked to the Israeli settlements or supporting their establishment.  The report was conducted in consultation with the Working Group on business and human rights.  A total of 206 companies, out of 321 companies reviewed had been screened.  The sixth report concerned human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan and was based on information received from Member States. 

After a decade of blockade, the situation in Gaza had deteriorated to a point that was unbearable for its inhabitants.  The majority of its two million inhabitants could not leave due to restrictions to freedom of movement and Gazans lived with electricity cuts lasting up to 18-20 hours a day.  The health system was on the verge of collapse and the exchange of fire between armed groups in Gaza and in Israel had escalated in the past months.  Though the situation was recognized by all parties, the United Nations was highlighting it again and again, week after week.  Thousands of people had been injured in protests following the 6 December announcement by the United States President recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  In conclusion, the State of Palestine’s continued work on the implementation of human rights treaties was welcomed, including accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Statements by Concerned Countries Israel was not in the room to take the floor as a concerned country.

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said certain recommendations made in the reports were out of context, as they did not take into account that the responsibilities and obligations fell upon the occupying power, Israel, which had subjugated the people under its occupation for 50 years.  While the State of Palestine had certain obligations, Israel was the occupying power.  The settlements which were ongoing on a daily basis were the problem.  Palestine thanked the Special Rapporteur for having created the database on business enterprises involved in the settlement building, and called on him to release this database publicly without delay.  Since 1967 Israel had been occupying Palestinian territories including Jerusalem, their capital, and building settlements, with the aim of changing its demography.  State of Palestine strongly condemned the United States decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  This act was in utter violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. 

State of Palestine called upon Israel to cooperate with the human rights mechanisms.  Israel ignored and refused to implement the Geneva Conventions, Security Council resolutions, and the opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in 2004.  It constantly escalated attacks and continued its settlements.  Over the past year, over 720 Palestinians had been arrested and detained, including 100 children.  They joined over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.  Israel continued to murder, grab natural resources, and erect walls and blockades in Gaza.  For over a decade, it had desecrated religious sites, demolished houses, and pursued a policy of arbitrary detention and arrests.  Palestine called upon the international community to take serious measures to persuade the occupying power to desist from illegal settlements, warning that those involved in the construction and demolition were accomplices to a crime which could constitute a war crime. 

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said since the occupation of the Syrian Golan in 1967, the Israeli occupation had continued to violate the Geneva Conventions and Security Council resolutions, including resolution 490 which declared that Israel could not exercise its jurisdiction over the Syrian Golan.  Terrorist groups had increased significantly with the aim to further entrench this occupation as a fait accompli.  Syrian citizens refused to recognize the legality of the occupation, and refused the attempt of Israel to hold municipal elections in 2018, as an attempt to erase the Syrian peoples’ identity.  Even more deplorable was the fact that this occupation was supported by the United States and their allies, within and outside the Human Rights Council, thus encouraging Israel to continue its occupation. 

Syria condemned the Israeli occupation in all its forms, as well as the attempts to extend it, in flagrant violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.  It called on the Council to force Israel to stop the attempt to modify the identity of the Syrian Golan through settlement-building.  Syria reiterated its condemnation of the restrictions imposed by the occupier Israel on the citizens of the Syrian Golan which pushed them into exile either by confiscation of their land and natural resources, or by making their lives impossible.  Citizens were denied construction permits to build their homes, and could not gain access to water and sanitation.  They were denied their right to property and to preserve their cultural identity.  Syria called upon the Council to use every mechanism possible to monitor and control the situation in the Syrian Golan, to condemn Israeli practices, to release those being held in prison, and to stop public executions, arbitrary arrests, restriction of freedom of movement of citizens, and the ongoing blockade against Gaza.  It called for the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination in their State, and condemned the United States decision regarding moving its embassy to Jerusalem.  The pressure put by United States and its allies to remove item 7 showed the hypocrisy of these States with respect to human rights. 

General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed concern that the recommendations in the reports did not adequately portray the entirely asymmetrical nature of the conflict with one party being occupied and besieged, and the other being the occupier and aggressor.  It also remained concerned about certain shortfalls of the database of companies involved in settlement activities, and urged the Council to publish the names of the companies.  The Organization also condemned Israel’s illegal colonial settlements.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the Movement’s long-standing solidarity with the Palestinian people and their self-determination.  It expressed grave concern about the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and other actions that would further consolidate Israel’s control and unlawful de facto annexation of Jerusalem.  The horrific tragedy and atrocities against the Palestinian people were added to a long list of grave breaches perpetrated by Israel in the past six decades.

Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, voiced concern about the high risk of arbitrary detention, absence of access to justice, and other breaches faced by the people living in the occupied Palestinian territory.  It called on all parties to implement the recommendations with respect to international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  The African Group called for an immediate end to the occupation and Israeli colonization, and to the blockade of Gaza and its 1.8 million citizens.

Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, reminded that after 50 years of occupation, the list of human rights violations committed by the occupying power was getting longer and longer.  Israel had resumed its practice of collective punishment by withdrawing the residence rights of indigenous land owners in Jerusalem, and it had been able to do so because of the unilateral decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, insisted on Israel’s complete withdrawal from occupied Palestinian and Arab territories and the establishment of the State of Palestine in line with the Arab peace initiative and United Nations resolutions.  Any modification of the status of Jerusalem would further complicate the current situation.  All commercial enterprises were called on to assume their responsibilities in line with human rights and businesses and cease their operations in building settlements.

Bolivia, speaking on behalf of group of countries, was appalled by recent reports showing the accelerated expansion of Israeli settlements, demolitions, forced evictions and acts of settler violence.   As highlighted in the High Commissioner’s report, the transfer of the population of an occupying State into an occupied territory constituted a war crime.  The impunity of businesses activities that contributed to the illegal occupation was condemned.

Pakistan said that the right to self-determination was a basic human right enshrined in the United Nations Charter, yet Palestinians had been denied that fundamental right and the occupying power had been getting away with grave violations of international law.  Pakistan continued to support a two-State solution, based on a free and secure State of Palestine with Al-Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

Senegal noted the ongoing deterioration of living conditions for Palestinians, particularly for vulnerable categories, due to grave violations of international law.  An appeal was launched for respecting the United Nations resolutions on the status of Jerusalem and freezing of all unilateral initiatives attempting to modify that status. 

Egypt welcomed the setting up of a database of all the companies involved in Israel’s settlement activities and urged the High Commissioner to publish the list of those enterprises.  The Palestinians were deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way and had no access to remedies.  The illegal expansion of Israel’s settlements was unacceptable, as was the forceful transfer of populations.  Egypt emphasized that it would spare no effort to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Tunisia noted that the Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory were illegal, further exacerbating the human rights plight of the Palestinians.  Business enterprises had failed to honour their human rights obligations in those territories.  The aim was to undermine the struggle and perseverance of the Palestinian people and change the character and demographics of the historic areas of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.

South Africa condemned in the strongest terms Israel’s settlement activities and expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, settler violence, discriminatory law enforcement, coercive environments leading to population transfers and forced evictions, and collective punishment meted out by the occupying power, and punitive demolition of homes akin to the apartheid.

Chile noted that Israel had the legal obligation and responsibility to avoid the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people, particularly as the result of the blockade of Gaza.  It appealed to all involved parties to hold all acts of violence.  The continued settler activity by Israel undermined the two-State solution, and Israel should stop all such activities.  The solution to the conflict was the creation of two democratic countries, living next to each other in peace. 

Cuba said the human rights situation in Palestinian territories deserved heightened attention by the Human Rights Council, noting that those who called for item 7 to be removed from the agenda continued to support the impunity of Israel.  Despite the legal opinion of the International Court of Justice on their illegality, the settlements continued.  A two-State solution, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and on the basis of the borders of 4 June 1967 was the only solution.

China was extremely concerned about the situation of Palestinians whose rights must be respected.  The President of China had proposed a four-point plan aimed at achieving a peaceful solution to this problem.  This included a political solution based on the existence of two States, long-standing cooperative security, better synergy of international efforts for peace, and a multi-dimensional plan based on the development of services.  China urged the international community to pursue a two-State solution and stood ready to help in this regard.

Qatar reiterated the importance of item 7 on the Human Rights Council agenda and the need to keep it on the agenda.  The item highlighted human rights and international humanitarian rights crimes committed against the Palestinian people for the last six decades.  Palestine was the last colony in the world.  Further confiscation of land, demolition of homes, and the continuing change in the character of Jerusalem were flagrant violations of international law.  The transfer of Israeli settlers constituted a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Angola reiterated its support to the struggle of the people of Palestine to realize their right to self-determination as well as their political, economic, social and cultural rights.  It defended the principle of a two-State solution, as the only way for lasting peace in the region.  The international community must make every effort for a serious, inclusive and constructive dialogue, in line with the agreement previously established, to end the conflict that continued to claim many innocent lives.

Venezuela noted that Palestine had been under occupation for 50 years and Gaza had been under an infamous blockade for 10 years.  The expansion of settlements in the West Bank and the Syrian Golan showed that Israel was seeking to wipe out any sign of Palestinians.  Unilateral arbitrary actions seeking to strengthen the position of Israel and its illegal annexation were condemned as they inhibited the two-State solution.

Japan called for immediate cessation of the construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied territories as they were unlawful under international law and were inhibiting efforts towards reaching a two-State solution.  Japan would continue to provide assistance for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Saudi Arabia reiterated that the Council had to discuss this agenda item as long as human rights violations continued in the occupied Palestinian territories.  Deaths and displacement of numerous Palestinians were consequences of flagrant violations of international law and 20 Palestinians had been killed in this year alone.  Collective punishment of civilians was taking place and Palestinians were being held under an illegal and immoral blockade.

United Arab Emirates was very concerned that a certain number of countries, the occupying power and its allies, had asked for item 7 to be removed from the Council’s agenda.  The reports of the Office of the High Commissioner testified to the plight of the Palestinian people which had been constant for the past 50 years, so it was legitimate to keep item 7 on the agenda, in line with the Council’s mandate and its moral imperative.

Nigeria noted with concern the continued occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories by Israel and Israel’s lack of will to implement United Nations resolutions.  It reiterated its call for the Human Rights Council to live up to its responsibilities and to ensure that all previous United Nations resolutions on the status of the Israeli occupied Palestine and other Arab territories were fully implemented by Israel.

Ecuador reiterated its concern about the continued violations of international law by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the continued promotion and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, destruction of infrastructure, actions to alter the demographic composition, and denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.

Slovenia expressed particular concern about reports of Palestinian minors, above the age of 12, in Israeli prisons and detention centres, including reports of their ill-treatment.  It was further concerned about the absence of a peace process and lack of perspective for both sides to finally resolve the conflict.  Slovenia emphasized the mutual responsibility of both parties to resume peace talks and refrain from violence.

Namibia reminded that the policy of transferring Israeli citizens into the occupied Palestinian territory was a flagrant violation of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and it should be treated as such.  Namibia reiterated that statehood and independence were inalienable and legal rights of the Palestinian people, noting that the only way to end the violation of Palestinian rights was to end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory.

Russian Federation was alarmed by the ongoing situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  A solution should be in strict compliance with the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.  Until such an agreement, the parties should not undertake any activities.  Russia condemned the unlawful settlements, blockade of Gaza and the destruction of Palestinian homes.  A comprehensive, lasting and just solution should end the occupation of land held since 1967, and create a State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Libya condemned the heinous crimes committed by Israel towards the Palestinian people, which included discrimination, Judaisation, expansion of settlements, building of walls, and destruction of homes.  The attempt to set up E-gates at a holy site that would restrict people from praying meant the authorities were escalating their denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.  Libya called on the Council and the international community to address the violations by Israeli forces and grant Palestinians their right to self-determination.

Bahrain reiterated the importance of item 7 and the need to keep it on the Council’s agenda until the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories.  It condemned the attempt of some States to change this item, which encouraged Israel’s impunity.  Israel continued its occupation in utter violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law.  It continued to build settlements in Palestine, which was in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Bahrain called on companies to cease cooperation with Israeli settlements.

Sweden said the world was witnessing an ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation in Israel and Palestine.  Restrictions on the freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank, the critical humanitarian situation, the continued isolation of Gaza, the detention of Palestinian minors by Israel, and new Israeli legislation on the residency status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem – a protected population under international humanitarian law – were some examples. 

Malaysia stressed that the world could not turn a blind eye to over seven decades of misery suffered by the Palestinians, whose every human right was being violated on a daily basis and with complete impunity.  While the world was progressing in implementing the 2030 Agenda with the promise of leaving no one behind, the Palestinians continued to suffer the cost of the illegal occupation.

Iran noted that the transfer of population was a grave breach of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention constituting a war crime.  The International Court of Justice, Security Council, General Assembly and the Human Rights Council had confirmed the illegality of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan.  Despite that in 2017 Israel had established 237 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Maldives believed it was the Council’s moral obligation to consider the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories and to address human rights violations there.  Israel continued to violate basic rights and fundamental freedoms of the Palestinian people and Maldives supported a sovereign and independent Palestine that was based on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it was the common responsibility of the international community to end systematic violations of human rights.  Over the past decades the United Nations had adopted many resolutions calling on Israel to stop the construction of settlements but the misconduct of the United States and Israel continued to defiantly violate international law and the United Nations Charter.

Jordan noted that the occupation violated all human rights of the Palestinian people and the best way to ensure their rights was to put an end to Israel’s occupation.  Jordan rejected any unilateral actions that undermined the Arab character of Jerusalem.  Israel’s condemnable practices undermined international peace and security.  Jordan urged the High Commissioner for Human Rights to publish the list of companies active in settlement activities.

Indonesia reiterated its concern about the worsening humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, and denounced Israel’s continuous developments of housing projects and licensing policies.  Indonesia called on Israel to cease the enlargement of any construction projects, particularly, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to return to the negotiating process with the Palestinian Authority.

Turkey said that the status quo in Palestine was not sustainable, whereas the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories was a major source of instability both in and beyond the region.  The international community should not lose sight of the plight of the Palestinians suffering from the devastating effects of Israel’s restrictions in the Gaza Strip.  Turkey would continue its humanitarian assistance to Palestine and its State-building efforts.

Bangladesh deplored the reluctance of some countries to participate in the general debate on item 7 and emphasized that any efforts to remove or diminish the importance of the item on the Council’s agenda were unacceptable.  It called on Israel and its allies to refrain from breaking the longstanding consensus on the status of Jerusalem, and to end the occupation in Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan.

Uruguay shared concern over human rights violations caused by the Israeli settlements as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.  Israelis and Palestinians were urged to refrain from unilateral actions which undermined peace and to fully respect international law.  Both parties were urged to resume peace talks.

Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf reiterated that it was important to keep item 7 on the Council’s agenda.  Attempts to remove it were attacks on the very objectives of the Council.  However, lack of efforts of the Council was also registered and it was noted that reports were often submitted late.  The report on business enterprises represented a step forward.

Sri Lanka noted the disturbing trend of extraction of natural resources in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.  The humanitarian work carried out by the United Nations agencies was noted with appreciation.  For a durable solution to the Palestine question it was imperative to recognize the legitimate and sensitive security concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Yemen appreciated efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner to follow up on the situation in Palestine.  Since the 1967 occupation Israel’s settlement policy had been continuing, although it was an act of provocation towards the international community.  Also continuing were efforts to achieve a peaceful solution and highlighting the rights of Palestinians.

Lebanon reiterated its support for item 7 as a fundamental item on the Human Rights Council agenda, which highlighted the tragedy experienced by the Palestinian people for decades.  Lebanon opposed the double standards policy of blocking this item by some States.   Israel continued to flagrantly violate human rights and international humanitarian law.  Some international companies were also in breach of these, due to their complicity in building settlements. 

Oman said here they were once again meeting, while the Palestinian people aspired for justice.  The Judaisation of Palestine and the violation of Palestinians right to self-determination were all factors that compromised peace.  The two-State solution was the only viable solution.  The Council must keep item 7 on its Agenda until the end of the occupation.  Calls to overlook item 7 weakened respect for conventions and treaties.

Sovereign Order of Malta reiterated that there could be no other alternative to the two-State solution and called upon parties to reject any other solution.  The Sovereign Order of Malta remained concerned about the expansion of settlement activities which exposed grave danger to peace while violating international law.  It called for full cooperation with United Nations resolutions and condemned any violence and human suffering.  A peaceful solution was the only alternative to violence and could only be achieved by confidence building in the region. 

Somalia said as a result of the blockade in Gaza, the movements of two million people were restricted.  This was the most serious attack on the freedom of movement in 50 years.  It called on Israel to respect human rights and humanitarian law.  Somalia was concerned about the situation of detainees, which included children and elderly, as well as the situation in East Jerusalem.  The international community had a heavy legal obligation to put an end to Israel’s impunity and hold it accountable for its violations.

Luxembourg expressed serious concern over the heightened humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  The impact of the food blockade in Gaza was unacceptable.  Gaza was nearing the point of collapse.  Concern was voiced over the ongoing construction of settlements.  Luxembourg also called on the Palestinian Authority to fulfil their humanitarian responsibilities.

Morocco said the report documented various measures taken by Israel to support unlawful demolition and seizure of Palestinian property.  The report indicated that such practices were increasing in harshness and undermining peace efforts.  The policy of annexation of property substantively threatened the human rights of Palestinians.

Algeria stressed that the item under discussion must remain on the Human Rights Council’s agenda.  Palestinians were facing occupation and Israel was violating all humanitarian treaties and principles.  The detention of children and minors by Israel persisted with total impunity. 

The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd pointed to the ongoing occupation imposed upon the Palestinian people.  The Centre welcomed the release of a database of businesses involved in settlement projects and deplored the recent decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man noted that 70 years ago over 800,000 Palestinians had been forcibly expelled, 15,000 killed and Palestinian society had been decimated in what was mourned as the Nakba, or catastrophe.  Since then, Israel had altered the character and composition of Palestine and Nakba continued today as an ongoing process of displacement and dispossession.  Seven decades on impunity were enough.

Amuta for NGO Responsibility noted that the international community for long had ignored the role of Hamas, Fatah and others in arming Palestinian children and spreading anti-Semitic incitement.  Recreation centres were named after terrorists, children were encouraged to skip school and commit violence and on television they had been thought to hate Israel.  The greater the atrocity committed, the more money was provided by Palestinian authorities. 

Touro Law Centre, The Institute on Human Rights and The Holocaust remarked that the report of the High Commissioner was in fact Jordanian defecation on the people of Israel.  Another day of Jew hatred in the Council was nothing new but it was a licence to kill for Palestinians.  Germany was also a member of the Council and though one would have thought that Germany had a licence to kill too many, the Council was still using same anti-Semitic speech. 

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights noted the practise of arbitrary detention and torture in Israel.  Though 23 serious incidents were registered, not one indictment had been made.  A man with a psychosocial disability had been held in isolation for 6 months, instead of being sent to hospital or back to Gaza.  The Special Rapporteur on torture had noted that Israel had still not criminalized torture and States were urged to pressure Israel to integrate the definition of torture from the Convention against Torture under its domestic law.

B’nai B’rith International noted that the Human Rights Council was a politically driven body.  Israel was alone in the Middle East as a bastion of democracy, where civil liberties and religious freedoms were upheld and Arabs occupied positions in the Government.  Israel had caused far fewer Arab fatalities in 70 years than fatalities committed in Syria in seven years.  And yet, the Council had issued so many condemnations of Israel.  It was an indictment of the Council, not Israel.

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches warned that the occupation of the Palestinian territories was resulting in enormous stress and psychological damage to children.  There were many threatening incidents for Palestinian children trying to reach their schools and enjoy their basic right to education.  The organization called on Israel to remove any restrictions to school and to ensure the safety of children and teachers during their commute.

Norwegian Refugee Council reminded that the ten-year-long Israeli-imposed siege of Gaza severed it from the West Bank and critically worsened the already disturbing humanitarian calamity.  International support in progressing reconciliation and Palestinian national unity had to be predicated on respect for basic rights.  It was vital to address the siege imposed by Israel; without it any attempt at reconciliation would have limited benefit for the besieged population. 

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture noted that in 50 years since the occupation, Palestinian people continued to suffer from flagrant violations of human rights.  Israel continued to build illegal settlements and violate holy sites.  Over one million Palestinians had been detained in 70 years.  It was important to send a World Health Organization mission to investigate the medical and health situation of the Palestinians, as well as to investigate Israel’s prisons.

International Commission of Jurists said the methodological framework of the database of business enterprises involved in settlement activities in Palestine would benefit from incorporating an analysis of corporate complicity under international law.  All States, including home States of companies involved in settlement activities, had a responsibility to prevent companies from operating in breach of international law.

International Federation of Journalists said that updated examination of the human rights situation in Palestine was needed in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.  Journalists faced several rights abuses, including acts of aggression using live ammunition.  Due to the occupation of Palestine, media outlets faced restrictions. 

World Jewish Congress said the Human Rights Council was failing the people of Palestine by underplaying the human rights abuses of Hamas terrorists.  The group was clearly violating international law.  The database of business enterprises also revealed the Council’s bias.  The Congress urged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to end work on the database.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues welcomed the continuing accountability efforts made to assess the ongoing human rights abuses of Israel.  The creation of the business database represented a significant step forward and set an example of a good practice for assessing rights abuses around the world.

Human Rights Watch stressed that last year Israel had passed a law legalizing the confiscation of private Palestinian land and declared their intent to maintain settlements forever.   The High Commissioner’s engagement on businesses operating in Israeli settlements provided an opportunity for States to fulfil their obligations outlined in the Security Council resolution 2334 and help business to fulfil  their human rights obligations.

BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights said that the Knesset had passed the regularization law, that had legalized around 4,000 housing units in 53 colonial outposts, built on private Palestinian land.  Prime Minister Netanyahu recently backed the so-called Greater Jerusalem Bill that would annex a total of 19 colonies in the West Bank and place them under the municipal boundaries in Jerusalem.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) supported recommendations from the report and requested lifting of Gaza blockade.  Israel continued its daily violation of international law and policy of restricting freedom of movement.  The decision of the United States to recognized Jerusalem was illegitimate and it further encouraged the occupying power to continue with its illegal actions. 

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that United States had been violating international community commitments by recognizing Al-Quds as Israel’s capital.  Resolutions and declarations made by the Security Council and the General Assembly concerning Israel provided a road map which had to be followed by all members of the international community.

Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum noted that the Palestinian people were still fighting for their self-determination, as well as the people in southern Yemen.  The creation of South Yemen was today a plausible probability and the inhabitants were in favour of that option.  The organization called on the Council to draw a roadmap that would enable the people of South Yemen to recover their self-determination.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said that the occupied Arab territories were a time bomb for regional and international security and peace.  Two million Palestinians were living under a blockade.  Israeli forces had detained 8,000 Palestinians, including children.  The annexation of the Syrian Golan was null and void. 

World Muslim Congress reminded that more than 330,000 Palestinians were internally displaced in the occupied Palestinian territory.  That number was likely to increase because many Palestinian communities were at a risk of forcible transfer due to Israel’s settlement activities, unlawful land confiscation, home demolitions, denial of residency, discriminatory planning and zoning, restrictions on movement, and settler violence. 

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies welcomed the report on the United Nations database of businesses engaged with Israeli settlements, noting that it was a much needed regulatory initiative for business conduct in the occupied Palestinian territory where hundreds of Israeli and foreign businesses participated in or contributed to violations of international law.

Africa Culture Internationale said violence and harassment of students by certain authorities had escalated.  Students were being detained and beaten.  The recent abduction of a Palestinian student leader was of particular concern.  Israel was violating the rights to education of Palestinians.  The group called for an end to intimidation of students.

Association of World Citizens expressed solidarity with the Special Rapporteur after verbal attacks by Israel and its allies.  The Association was committed to keeping item 7 on the agenda of the Human Rights Council until the resolution of the crisis.  Israel was violating human rights through its settlement and blockade activities. 

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said the Israeli occupation had destroyed all prospects for peace in the region.  The group was concerned about the undermining of international law by States seeking to remove the item from the Human Rights Council’s agenda.

International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) said the occupation of Palestine was changing the territory’s demographics and resulting in human rights violations.  Land confiscation and demolition had led to internal displacement.  Such illegal activities were limiting Palestinians’ access to education and health services.

Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” expressed solidarity with Palestinians, condemning the arbitrary decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Since the election of the current American President, there had been numerous threats against Syria, Venezuela and Palestine.  Thousands of Palestinians faced a tragic destiny for defending their ancestral land while the United States had abused their veto right 42 times blocking resolutions on Israel.

IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association said the Israeli siege of Gaza had been ongoing for 12 years.   Clean water was scarce for Gaza’s 2 million people as 96 per cent of the underground water reserves was unpotable.  While efforts of the European Union were commended and external aid was necessary, it was not enough.  Israel had to profoundly change its view to the situation.

International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists noted that the report establishing a database of business and companies operating in the region had been problematic.  A valid and solid legal analysis was absent from the normative basis of the database.  What activities of companies contributed to violations of defined rights?  The link between an activity of the company and a breach of human rights remained vague.

United Nations Watch addressed democracies, including those in the European Union, which had been supporting the demonization of Israel by the Council.  Reports of the High Commissioner were biased and untrue.  Council members like Germany, Spain and Belgium were informed that Israel had more reports than Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or China and that no country was targeted in the Council like Israel.

Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) called attention to the administrative detention of Palestinians, which was one of the many measures taken by Israel against the Palestinian people, without any access to legal remedies.  Was that wave of administrative detentions part of Israel’s strategy to crush protest?

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling noted that the Israeli occupying power exposed Palestinian women to various forms of discriminatory policies.  When would third parties adhere to legal obligations under international law and end the prolonged Israeli occupation?

International-lawyers.org drew attention to the consequences of the illegal Israeli settlement activities forced upon the Palestinian civilian population, which had been taking place since 1967.  The organization called on the international community and the Council to take all necessary measures to put a stop to the illegal settlement activities that violated Palestinians’ inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination.

Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” strongly condemned the recent Israeli crackdown on Palestinian media and broadcast companies, falsely accusing them of broadcasting incitement to hatred.  The decision to close down those companies was illegal.  The Council was urged to prepare a report on the suppression of freedom of expression in Palestine.

European Union of Jewish Students said no organization, government, or country should be treated unequally, as the rights of all were equal.  Israel was being singled out and targeted as the sole party responsible for a conflict in an area where violations of human rights by other countries were being ignored.

Meezan Centre for Human Rights said Israel was subjecting Gaza to a blockade that had closed all border crossings.  Unemployment in Gaza stood near 50 per cent with a large number of the population now relying on humanitarian aid as a result of the blockade.  Israeli policies were limiting the scope of action of organizations providing such assistance.

For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC18.054E

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