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Human Rights Council 34th Session
Agenda Item 7

Introductory remarks by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein igh Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 20 March 2017


Mr. President,
Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to introduce four reports, and an oral update on the progress of implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 31/35 under item 7. There are three reports by the Secretary-General before you. In accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 31/34, the Secretary-General’s report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, presents a snapshot of the underlying policies and practices that lead to recurring and persistent patterns of human rights violations. 

The second report by the Secretary-General is pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 and reviews Israeli laws, policies and practices aimed at creating or expanding settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan. This includes retroactive legalization of unauthorized outposts under Israeli law, declaration of state land, and zoning and planning policies. The report examines implications of a coercive environment which further increases the risk of forcible transfer for many Palestinian communities, and also analyses the human rights violations involved in the production of settlement goods and the relationship between trade in these goods and the maintenance and economic growth of settlements.

A technical note has also been issued regarding the endorsement by the Human Rights Council of my recommendation for a one-time deferral of the report on the database of business enterprises engaged in the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, pursuant to resolution 31/36. This will allow my Office to ensure that there is adequate time for consultations and that due process can be respected.

The third report by the Secretary-General is pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 31/25. This report provides an update based on information received by Member States on Israeli laws, policies and practices reportedly aimed at creating or expanding settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan, including through arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention of Syrians, forced transfer, house demolitions, land confiscation and exploitation of natural resources in the occupied Golan.

The fourth report before you is my ninth periodic report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions S-9/1 and S-12/1. This report is based primarily on the systematic and careful human rights monitoring work undertaken by my Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It contains cases of human rights violations monitored by the office and sets out recommendations with regard to each of the main duty bearers, namely Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the authorities in Gaza.

A half-century of occupation and settlements has taken a heavy toll on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The patterns of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that my Office has witnessed and reported over the past decade have become all too familiar. The illegal settlement enterprise and related unlawful seizure and destruction of property, the demolitions and resultant forced displacement, settler violence, excessive use of force and possible extra-judicial killings, administrative and arbitrary detentions, collective punishment measures – these all remain at the core of human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This year marks another milestone as Israel’s blockade of Gaza enters its 10th year and frustration and despair continues to grow. Israeli security forces continue to use firearms almost on a daily basis along the Israeli designated “access restricted areas” on land and sea to enforce this closure.

My Office has consistently provided detailed information as to how impunity has driven human rights violations and how lack of accountability on both sides fuels new cycles of violence and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Allow me to conclude my remarks with an update on the progress of the comprehensive review on the status of recommendations addressed to all parties since 2009 pursuant to resolution 31/35. My Office has analysed over 900 recommendations addressed to a range of actors, including Israel and the State of Palestine, but also other Palestinian duty bearers and the international community, including Member States, civil society and companies.

Consultations are underway with the parties concerned and an open call for submissions was posted online in order to give all stakeholders the opportunity to provide information. Given the volume of information, an addendum will be produced to illustrate how the status of implementation of various types of recommendations has been determined. My Office looks forward to submitting the report to the Council at its thirty-fifth session in June.

Thank you.