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Palestinian President urges the Security Council to set up a special regime for the International Protection of the Palestinian People

Human Rights Council

28 October 2015 

President of the State of Palestine and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Address a Special Meeting of the Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council today held a special meeting in which it heard an address by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, who urged the Security Council to urgently set up a special regime for international protection of the Palestinian people, and an address by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.   

President Abbas said that what Palestine had warned of had happened.  The situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, as a result of the continued Israeli occupation and its practices, was the worst and most critical since 1948.  This called for a strong and decisive intervention and shouldering of responsibility, before it was too late, by the United Nations and its Member States, and most particularly by the United Nations Security Council, which was requested, more urgently than any time before, to set up a special regime for international protection of the Palestinian people, immediately and urgently.  Peace, security and stability would not be achieved unless the Israeli occupation was ended and the independence of the State of Palestine was obtained, with East Jerusalem as its capital, along the 1967 borders, and in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions, not by using wanton force, colonial settlement, collective punishment, house demolitions, extra-judicial killings, and propagating poisonous hatred and enmity among the people. 

It was unacceptable for the current situation to persist, for it would kill the last shred of hope for the two-State solution based peace, warned President Abbas, who expressed support for the proposal for the Security Council to issue a resolution that included clear standards for achieving peace based on the two-State solution along the 1967 lines, and set a timeline to end the occupation with international supervision and launch that in an international peace conference.  In the meanwhile, Israel should release the fourth tranche of prisoners and halt all of its settlement activities so that the State of Palestine could live side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel. 

In his statement, High Commissioner Zeid warned that, if not stopped immediately, the violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis would draw everyone ever closer to a catastrophe.  Tensions were very high, he said, and cautioned that if the violence continued to sharpen along religious lines, there was a growing possibility of a broader and terrible confrontation, which this imperilled region did not need.  High Commissioner Zeid stressed the need to stop the knifings, incitement and car attacks; cease the shootings and beatings; end impunity for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law; provide justice for victims; and halt the actions by the settler movement throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, but particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem.

High Commissioner Zeid stressed that the Middle East peace process must now be reactivated with an unprecedented sense of purpose and a lasting peace must now be obtained.  Israel had to be assured its security for good, and the occupation, which had caused the Palestinian people such intense suffering for almost 50 years, generating rage and resentment – the occupation must end too.  The people of Palestine deserved to live free, and in dignity, enjoying their full rights, in their own liberated State of Palestine.

Opening the meeting, Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, welcomed President Abbas and High Commissioner Zeid.

This is the second special meeting of the Human Rights Council in its history, the first being in 2007, when the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, addressed the Council.

Statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed President Abbas and said that he wished that the circumstances of his visit were different.  The violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis would draw everyone ever closer to a catastrophe if not stopped immediately, warned High Commissioner Zeid.  The latest wave of violence had resulted in 58 Palestinian deaths, with 2,100 wounded, and 11 Israeli deaths, with 127 wounded, he recalled, noting concerns about extra-judicial killings and the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces.  He stressed that the stabbing and shooting and car attacks targeting Israelis were totally unjustifiable, and said that violence could not be the answer.

The crisis was dangerous in the extreme because it was a confrontation drawn in part from that most combustible of human emotional mechanisms: fear.  It was a confrontation between peoples who feared each other, each other’s motives and the future, which, if left unchecked, would lose considerations of humanity and lead to hate and bloodshed.  A catastrophe became more likely because of the supremely sensitive issue of the status quo with respect to occupied East Jerusalem, and specifically the site that was known to Muslims as the Al Aqsa compound or the Haram Al Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount, said High Commissioner Zeid.  For Palestinians, and the Arab and Muslim worlds generally, their fear was centred on the perceived increasing aggressiveness of Israeli attitudes toward this compound, strongly suggesting a desire to alter the status quo.  The Israeli Government said this fear was misplaced, and believed that rumours inflamed passions; repeated assurances had been given by the Prime Minister that there was no threat to the al Aqsa compound.  Instead, the Government feared the Palestinians were stoking resentment and anger to incite violence against Israel and Israelis – and that the Palestinians were ultimately responsible for this violence. 

Tensions were very high.  If the violence continued to sharpen along religious lines, there was a growing possibility of a broader and terrible confrontation, which this imperilled region did not need.  The High Commissioner stressed the need to stop the knifings, incitement and car attacks; cease the shootings and beatings; end impunity for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law; and provide justice for victims.  The actions by the settler movement throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, but particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem, must be halted, and the excessive use of force by Israeli military and police , house demolitions and other collective punishments could not be permitted to continue. The blockade of Gaza must be ended.

The Middle East peace process must now be reactivated with an unprecedented sense of purpose and a lasting peace must now be obtained, said High Commissioner Zeid. Israel had to be assured its security for good, and not remain the object of any threat to it or its people.  And the occupation, which had caused the Palestinian people such intense suffering for almost 50 years, generating rage and resentment – the occupation must end too.  The people of Palestine deserved to live free, and in dignity, enjoying their full rights, in their own liberated state of Palestine.

Statement by the President of the State of Palestine

MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said that what Palestine had warned of had happened.  The situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, as a result of the continued Israeli occupation and its practices, was the worst and most critical since 1948.  This called for a strong and decisive intervention and shouldering of responsibility, before it was too late, by the United Nations and its Member States, and most particularly by the United Nations Security Council, which was requested, more urgently than any time before, to set up a special regime for international protection of the Palestinian people, immediately and urgently.  Peace, security and stability would not be achieved unless the Israeli occupation was ended and the independence of the State of Palestine was obtained, with East Jerusalem as its capital, along the 1967 borders, and in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions, not by using wanton force, colonial settlement, collective punishment, house demolitions, extra-judicial killings, and propagating poisonous hatred and enmity among the people. 

President Abbas had repeatedly warned of the consequences of what was happening in Jerusalem and its surroundings, with measures undertaken by Israel, especially after the year 2000, to systematically change the identity of Jerusalem and historical and demographic character, including increased settlement construction, excavations under Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City, setting up walls to alienate Palestinian neighbourhoods, closing its national institutions and tightening the noose around the necks of the population in an attempt to drive them out of the holy city.

The pressure would generate an explosion and the violations committed by settlers and extremists, protected by the Israeli occupation forces, against Christian and Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, namely the plans that endangered the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to alter the pre-1967 status quo and beyond, would turn the political conflict into a religious one, which would have grave consequences for all; this, Palestine would never accept or acknowledge.  President Abbas reiterated the importance of implementing the 2014 declaration by the International Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on the full and unconditional applicability of this Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem.  Israel breached systematically the laws and principles of international law and international humanitarian law, and acted as a State above the law, with impunity.  Israel was looting the natural resources of Palestine, and allowed the settlers under the protection of its armed forces, to attack and commit crimes against Palestinians, desecrate holy sites in Palestinian cities and villages, and to arm terrorist gangs which had committed killings and burning to death of Palestinians, including children and whole families.

Long-lasting hopelessness, suffocation and pressure, and the lack of safety and security under which the Palestinian people lived, had led to frustration and led the youth to despair and to rebellion against the reality, said President Abbas.  It had led to revolt for the sake of dignity, homeland, nation, and the holy sites desecrated under the occupation which continued to kill, loot and imprison.  The occupation forces had escalated criminal practices and performed extra-judicial executions against unarmed Palestinian civilians, detaining their corpses, including children, applying collective punishment, arbitrarily arresting and putting behind bars more than 6,000 Palestinian citizens.  It was unacceptable for the current situation to persist, for it would kill the last shred of hope for the two-State solution based peace, warned President Abbas.  It was high time for the international community to take practical measures which would serve justice to the Palestinian people and establish peace and security as a tangible reality.

President Abbas expressed appreciation for the efforts to enable the Palestinian people to achieve freedom and independence, and also expressed gratitude to the Human Rights Council for adopting resolutions which had revealed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the suffering of the people as a result of the Israeli occupation.  He stressed the importance of the work by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteurs, as well as the work of independent international fact-finding missions established by this Council to look into human rights violations, and advise of acts that qualified as war crimes and crimes against humanity, with which Israel unfortunately refused to cooperate.  President Abbas extended an invitation to all Special Procedures to visit Palestine and see the situation for themselves, and stressed the importance of retaining on the agenda of the Human Rights Council item seven, on the human rights situation in Occupied Palestinian Territories and other occupied Arab Territories.  International law had been established to be implemented and not negotiated upon; the international community must therefore act to ensure that international law was respected far from any selectivity and double standards. 

In spite of all obstacles laid by the occupation, Palestine would continue to build its State institutions, strengthen democracy, enforce the rule of law, protect the rights of women, promote equality among all members of society without racial or religious discrimination, and abide by the principles of peaceful popular resistance.  Palestine would continue to join international treaties and harmonize its laws with international standards, and it would continue to protect its people against the occupation using all peaceful means, including through the International Criminal Court.  President Abbas reaffirmed the unity of its land and people and the rejection of any interim or partial solutions; Palestine sought to form a national unity government that operated in line with the Palestine Liberation Organization programme, conducting elections and convening the Palestinian National Council.  Israel must bear its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo could not continue, stressed President Abbas.

Palestine extended sincere thanks to the 137 States which had recognized Palestine and welcomed international, European and Arab efforts that called for expanding international participation to achieve peace, including having the Security Council issue a resolution that included clear standards for achieving peace based on the two-State solution along the 1967 lines, and set a timeline to end the occupation with international supervision and launch that in an international peace conference.  In the meanwhile, Israel should release the fourth tranche of prisoners and halt all of its settlement activities so that the State of Palestine could live side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.  It was no longer useful to waste time on negotiations just for the sake of negotiations, what was required was ending the occupation in accordance with the international legitimacy resolutions.  Until such time, Palestine reaffirmed that the United Nations Security Council was requested to establish a special regime of international protection for the Palestinian people.

The obstruction of the transitional phase by Israel had led Palestine to proclaim on the 30th of September in New York that Palestine could not continue to be bound, unilaterally, by agreements signed with Israel which had failed to show commitment thereto.  Israel must bear all of its responsibilities as an occupying power because the status quo could not continue.  Palestine would start the implementation of this declaration by all peaceful and legal means. 

President Abbas extended an invitation to Israeli people for a right and justice-based peace that guaranteed security and stability for all, and reasserted that the hands of Palestinians remained outstretched for a just peace that would guarantee the rights, freedoms and dignity for Palestinians.  He also called upon Israeli intellectuals, opinion-makers and politicians that peace was affordable and within reach, and the answer was simple: the State of Israel must end its occupation of Palestinian land, its oppressive war machine must stop its aggression of the Palestinian people, settlement activities must cease and criminal activities of settlers must be stopped.  There was nothing worse than despair and hopelessness, and distrust in the present and the future.  The Israeli occupation was the root cause of all tragedies that Palestinian people had long suffered from, and was the reason that kept the region and people spiralling in a cycle of violence.  Palestinians did not want violence, said President Abbas, and yet, the continuation of occupation expanded the scope of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodshed.

In conclusion, President Abbas stressed that it was about time that leaders had the courage to make rightful and honest decisions before it was too late, to make the two-State solution a concrete reality, because this might be the last available chance for this solution, for peace.  No one knew what the winds of change sweeping across the region were carrying along.  Security could not be realized through occupation and military and discriminatory force.  It was only achieved by recognition of the rights of the other.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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