GENEVA (19 June 2017) - The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories after hearing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein present a report on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem: comprehensive review on the status of recommendations addressed to all parties since 2009.
Presenting his report, High Commissioner Zeid explained that the final analysis was based on 64 reports issued between 2009 and 2016, containing 929 recommendations by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Council mechanisms. The final analysis included recommendations to all parties, which had been grouped into seven thematic areas: accountability and access to justice, international engagement, right to liberty and treatment in detention, settlements, freedom of movement, other civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. High Commissioner Zeid noted that patterns of non-compliance, non-implementation and non-cooperation had been identified across those thematic areas based on an objective assessment referencing the most recent information available in the United Nations reports, national official sources, documentation and publications by civil society and other credible sources. The extremely low implementation rate on all sides was discouraging.
State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, stated that even though the Palestinians were under enforced occupation, the two parties were treated equally in the report. Israel continued to ignore recommendations by the Security Council and the General Assembly, and it continued to violate its commitments and obligations as it had done for over 70 years.
Syria, speaking as a concerned country, voiced concerns about the forced displacements and repeated violations of human rights of the Syrian people living in the Golan Heights. It was urgent to cease the illegal occupation of Arab territories by Israel since 1967. Israel’s settlements in the Golan Heights were a clear expression of disregard of the Council’s recommendations.
Israel was not present in the room to take the floor as the concerned country.
In the ensuing general debate, speakers noted that item 7 carried an important weight in the Council. It was not something that had been created overnight. It had never been intended to name and shame a country, nor had it been used to single out a country for its human rights policies. It was there for a bigger cause: to remind all that real and grave human rights violations still existed right before the eyes of the international community under the pretext of illegal occupation. The ongoing and deteriorating human rights conditions in the Palestinian territories were living testimonies that there was still an uphill battle to guarantee basic human rights. The Council had failed to act sufficiently quickly. It was time to move from words to actions, and to implement numerous decisions that had been taken on that issue. Some speakers regretted calls to remove the item on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories from the agenda of the Council. Other speakers said the Council continuously singled out Israel, more than any other nation, and this was an evidence of a double standard against Israel, the only Jewish State.
Taking the floor were Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Bahrain on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Nicaragua on behalf of a group of countries, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Qatar, Cuba, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, Venezuela, Brazil, Tunisia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Iraq, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, Maldives, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Libya, Malaysia, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Namibia, Algeria, Jordan, Chile, Bahrain, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Turkey, Angola, Oman, Gulf Cooperation Council, Zimbabwe, Yemen, Lebanon, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, Mauritania and Morocco.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor: Amuta for NGO Responsibility, Palestinian Return Centre, Touro Law Centre, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Defence for Children International, World Jewish Congress, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, BADIL resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Union of Arab Jurists, Human Rights Watch, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, World Muslim Congress, International-Lawyers.Org, American Association of Jurists, United Nations Watch, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, B’nai B’rith, European Union of Jewish Students, Africa Culture Internationale, and Servas International.
The Council will next hold a general debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, followed by the presentation of a report by the Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. It will then hold a general debate on racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem: comprehensive review on the status of recommendations addressed to all parties since 2009 (A/HRC/35/19).
The Council has before it an addendum to the Comprehensive review on the status of recommendations addressed to all parties since 2009 with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – additional information (A/HRC/35/19/Add.1).
Presentation of Report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights
ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting his report, explained that the final analysis was based on 64 reports issued between 2009 and 2016, containing 929 recommendations by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Council mechanisms. It also included recommendations from previous fact-finding missions, Commissions of Inquiry and Special Procedure mandate holders, as well as the treaty bodies to the Human Rights Council. The final analysis included recommendations to all parties, which had been grouped into seven thematic areas: accountability and access to justice, international engagement, right to liberty and treatment in detention, settlements, freedom of movement, other civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. Patterns of non-compliance, non-implementation and non-cooperation had been identified across those thematic areas based on an objective assessment referencing the most recent information available in the United Nations reports, national official sources, documentation and publications by civil society and other credible sources.
The report documented failures by all parties to fully implement the vast majority of recommendations. The extremely low implementation rate on all sides was discouraging. The recommendations by human rights mechanisms had manifested a general consensus on the measures that parties had to take in order to further compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Those included ending practices that continued to violate international law and ensuring accountability for past violations, including war crimes. High Commissioner Zeid thus did not propose another human rights mechanism in the report. He reiterated to all stakeholders that compliance with international law and ensuring its respect was not optional. They were the sine qua non condition for peace. To break the cycle of violence, the root causes had to be addressed. Those included bringing an end to the occupation and addressing the security concerns of Israel.
Statements by the Concerned Countries
Israel was not in the room.
State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for the comprehensive report. It contained particular recommendations regarding Palestine, which did not take into account the legal responsibilities. The Palestinians were a people under enforced occupation, and yet the two parties were treated equally in the report. Committees of experts had drawn up reports demonstrating the hindrances imposed. The blockade and the denial by Israel and the refusal to address article 7 and to respect commitments under the Geneva Convention were noted. Israel continued to ignore recommendations by the Security Council and the General Assembly, and continued to violate its commitments and obligations as it had done for over 70 years. The occupying forces had not spared hospitals, and the international community was called on to step up to its responsibility and put pressure on the occupying power to end the occupation. It was essential to respect the recommendations arising, and all necessary measures should be taken to facilitate a visit on the ground.
Syrian Arab Republic, speaking as a concerned country, voiced concerns about the forced displacements and repeated violations against the human rights of Syrian people living in the Golan. It was urgent to cease the illegal occupation of Arab territories by Israel since 1967. Israel’s settlements in the Golan Heights were a clear expression of the disregard of this Council’s recommendations by Israel, which continued to confiscate lands pertaining to Syrians who were deprived of the right to dispose of their resources. In the Golan, populations were subjected to arbitrary detention, faced torture and punitive measures, including fines and mistreatment. Israel was accused of facilitating the entrance of terrorists groups in the Arab occupied territories and providing assistance to such groups.
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, shared the concerns of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with regard to the illegal Israeli practices against the Palestinian people, in particular the lack of access to justice, and called upon Israel to implement recommendations addressed to it under international humanitarian law. The African Group called on Israel to put an end to the blockade of Gaza and stop the suffering of Palestinians living under occupation.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, deplored that the report’s recommendations 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. Israel’s occupation and associated policies and practices fragmented the occupied Palestinian territories, violated the collective and individual rights of Palestinians, and amounted to apartheid.
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, stressed the importance of item 7 because it highlighted all kinds of violations suffered by the Palestinian people. The situation in Palestine was characterized by the total lack of accountability by Israel. The Gulf Cooperation Council condemned the Israeli settlements built on Palestinian lands, the administrative and geographical classification imposed by Israel, and the separation wall, which prevented mobility of the Palestinian people. Israel had failed to cooperate with the fact-finding missions and its implementation of the relevant recommendations was imperative.
Nicaragua, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, reminded that the Palestinian people had been living in suffering under occupation for 50 years, which appeared to have no end in sight. The occupying power had demonstrated many attempts to make it permanent. Reports of grave human rights violations experienced by the Palestinian people had continued to be received by the United Nations. They had an inalienable right to exercise their right to self-determination. The group of countries criticized those States which had questioned keeping item 7 on the Council’s agenda.
Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, reminded that Israel was still committing flagrant violations of international human rights law. The United Nations had failed to guarantee the right of the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination. Israel was still committing human rights violations in Muslim holy sites and was giving free rein to Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Arab Group condemned the abstention of some countries from taking part in the discussion of item 7.
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that it was high time for the international community to put an end to the abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that had brought so much suffering and so many crises. The Non-Aligned Movement strongly believed that Israel had to be held accountable for its continued grave violations of international humanitarian law.
Qatar underscored that the continued construction of settlements and the forced exiles illustrated the complete indifference of the occupying power towards its violations of human rights. Israel continued to exert such actions in complete impunity. Qatar stated that such practices by the occupying power should be referred to the International Criminal Court. Qatar was committed to the Palestinian cause and supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as a capital.
Cuba highlighted that the occupation of Arab territories by Israel had started 50 years ago. Since then, Israel had paid no attention to the Special Procedures and international mechanisms. Frequent violations of international commitments were taking place in the occupied Arab territories. Cuba fully supported the establishment of a Palestinian State with the right to become a permanent member of the United Nations.
United Arab Emirates expressed concern regarding the paralysis of the Human Rights Council on the Palestinian issue. It was time to move from words to actions, and to implement numerous decisions that had been taken on that issue. There had been many reports and statistics, and yet certain countries called for item 7 to be removed from the Council’s agenda. There was a need to ensure accountability for the human rights violations in the Palestinian territories.
Saudi Arabia expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, adding that the efforts made by the Council on the Palestinian issue had been ethical. The occupying power had been committing grave human rights violations under the gaze of the international community. The Council had failed to act sufficiently quickly. It was critical to take serious measures to end the expansion of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian lands. Israel had continued to humiliate independent experts and prevent them from carrying out their investigations.
Egypt voiced deep concern about the evidence that had shown the impunity enjoyed by the occupying power in the Palestinian territories. The suffering endured by the Palestinian people was escalating under a culture of impunity which was why the Council had to put an end to the occupation of the Palestinian and other Arab territories. All that was taking place while some countries called for the elimination of item 7. Egypt would never spare any effort to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East.
China urged Israel to put an end to the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories. China supported the Middle East peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital. While promoting negotiations was key to finding a sustainable solution to the conflict, the international community should also increase its economic assistance to Palestinian populations.
Venezuela said that it was unacceptable that, in the last 50 years, the people of Palestine had continued to suffer from occupation. Venezuela deplored the total disregard by Israel of any international obligations and international mechanisms. Venezuela firmly condemned the blockade of Gaza and the policy of siege led by Israel on this territory. Venezuela called on the international community to adopt all necessary measures to ensure an effective follow-up of the United Nations resolutions on the occupied Arab territories.
Brazil said that70 years after the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 181, and 50 years after it passed resolution 242, the lack of progress in realizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination cast a shadow over the United Nations. Brazil called on the international community to uphold a Palestinian State that would be sovereign and economically viable within mutually agreed borders based on the 1967 lines.
Tunisia highlighted that the acts committed by Israel against Palestinians violated the law and were in complete defiance of the United Nations and this Council. The 50 years of occupation; arbitrary arrests, including of children; and the occupation of Gaza, which would be inhabitable by 2020, took place with complete impunity. Israel tried to make the world believe that it was targeted by the Council in order to put an end to this agenda item of the Council, which must be maintained to highlight the plight of the Palestinians imposed on them by Israel.
Ecuador said that 50 years on from the start of the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel made clear the primary responsibility of the occupying power to end this occupation, which was in violation of international law, as well as to end the blockade, the construction of the wall, and the expansion of settlements in the Palestinian territories. The Council must ensure accountability for all past violations, including war crimes. This agenda item must continue to be a priority as long as Israel continued the violation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.
Bolivia expressed its support for and sympathy with the Palestinian people in their legitimate fight for dignity, justice and self-determination as an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital and within its pre-1967 borders. Despite approximately 60 reports by Commissions of Inquiry, Special Rapporteurs, Secretary-General, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and human rights treaty bodies, everything remained the same. There was a moral obligation to maintain this agenda item in the Council.
Iraq reiterated its solidarity with the Palestinian people and people in other occupied Arab territories. It condemned the violations committed by the occupying power, such as arbitrary detention, destruction of homes, use of disproportionate force against civilians, and the building of illegal settlements. Those were violations of elementary human rights. Iraq strongly condemned the lack of cooperation by the occupying power with the United Nations human rights mechanisms. It was critical to keep item 7 on the Council’s agenda.
Indonesia noted that item 7 carried an important weight in the Council; it was not something that had been created overnight. It had never been intended to name and shame a country, nor had it been used to single out a country for its human rights policies. It was there for a bigger cause: to remind all that real and grave human rights violations still existed right before the eyes of the international community under the pretext of illegal occupation. The ongoing and deteriorating human rights conditions in Palestine were living testimonies that there was still an uphill battle to guarantee the basic human rights of Palestinians.
Bangladesh regretted that 50 years of international statements and resolutions had not brought an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Bangladesh restated its unwavering support for a two-State solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the pre-1967 borders. The only way to achieve peace and security in the region was to end Israel’s occupation and allow for the return of all Palestinian refugees. Bangladesh condemned the lack of cooperation by Israel with the United Nations human rights mechanisms.
Nigeria voiced concern that after 50 years of occupation, Palestinian people suffered from flagrant human rights violations. The international legal background imposed a responsibility for Israel to abide by its international obligations. Nigeria called upon Israel to respect its obligations in order to pave the way for a two-State solution which remained the only long lasting solution for peace. Ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would contribute to attaining peace in the Middle East.
South Africa recalled that against the background of the liberation struggle of South Africa, it was a cause for deep concern that articles of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples were continuously and flagrantly violated in the case of the Palestinian people. South Africa expressed concerns about the construction of the apartheid wall in the occupied Palestinian territory and the lack of accountability related to past cycles of violence in the West Bank.
Maldives firmly condemned the violations by Israeli forces in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. It was unacceptable that after 50 years of occupation, generations of Palestinian people remained deprived of their rights to live freely and without fear. Maldives supported a two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders. Maldives urged Israel to enter the process of dialogue.
Nicaragua reiterated its solidarity with the Palestinian people and Nicaragua’s support for a sovereign independent Palestinian State within its pre-1967 borders. A fair and lasting solution to the Palestinian question was essential for peace and stability in the Middle East and it could only come about with the full implementation of the United Nations resolutions on Palestine and the United Nations’ historical commitment to ensure that Israeli and Palestinian people lived in peace and security.
Pakistan said that there could be no justification for the Israel’s oppression and occupation. In today’s time and age, when the very thought of apartheid regimes and colonialism was incomprehensible, Israel appeared not to believe in the United Nations Charter and its principles nor did it adhere to international law and human dignity. Israel believed in democracy for some but not all, and continued to flout its international obligations in full impunity. If Israel thought that it was singled out by the international community, it should ask itself why.
Russia was concerned about the degradation of the situation in the occupied Arab territories, including the continuation of Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories, such as the efforts to legalise illegal settlements in the West Bank. The only way to achieve a full and fair settlement to the conflict was the two-State solution. Israel should take practical steps to improve the human rights situation of the Palestinians, said Russia, stressing that all questions, including on borders, must be resolved by the parties themselves.
Libya deplored the continuing violation of the basic human rights of Palestinians by Israel, including the right to life. The detention of journalists, the policy of settlement building and the construction of a wall at the border with the occupied territories were flagrant violations of international law and constituted impediments for peace. Libya reiterated its support for the establishment of a Palestinian State and called on Israel to meet its international obligations.
Malaysia said that for seven decades the Palestinians had lived under the Israeli occupation. International efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine had been unsuccessful. Countless United Nations resolutions and other peace initiatives had been ignored, and world powers seemed inactive in the face of Israel’s intransigence.
Senegal deplored the degradation of living conditions for the Palestinian people on the ground due to the restrictions imposed by Israel. Senegal condemned the continuing policy of building settlements on Palestinian lands, including in East Jerusalem. Senegal supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.
Sudan said the High Commissioner for Human Rights had provided a comprehensive report 50 years after the occupation. The occupation at was in violation of United Nations resolutions, and over the past 70 years, the international community had seen Israel’s violations everywhere. The international community had a legal and moral responsibility to put an end to the impunity of Israel for violations of international law.
Kuwait said it was important to continue discussing the deteriorating human rights situation under item 7. Due to the Israeli occupation, some of those violations were tantamount to crimes against humanity. Item 7 was part of the Human Rights Council’s institution-building package. Israel continued to colonize the occupied Palestinian territories through settlement activities, and to expand the isolation wall.
Namibia said the High Commissioner’s report painted a bleak picture of non-compliance, especially by the occupying power, with the recommendations addressed to all parties. Member States should persuade the occupying power to respect the calls and recommendations by the international community, including in the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. Israel must desist from actions aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territories.
Algeria reaffirmed the importance of keeping this item on the agenda of the Council and stressed the historical responsibility of the United Nations to the Palestinian people. Israel must be held accountable for its repeated human rights violations and the international community must provide access to remedies for the victims. It was important for the occupation to come to an end and all the Palestinian people, including those in Israel, must fully enjoy their rights.
Jordan thanked the High Commissioner and recalled that the root cause of all human rights violations in Palestine was the occupation. There could be no peace nor security in the region without a two-State solution with an independent and sovereign Palestinian State within its pre-1967 borders. Jordan would spare no effort to restart the peace negotiations and would challenge any attempts to change the status quo in the holy city.
Chile said that on 30 March Israel had approved the construction of new settlements in the West Bank, which in addition to the construction of the separation wall, confiscation of land and the demolition of villages, was changing the demographic and geographic configuration of the occupied Palestinian territories. Chile supported the two-State solution and focused on the protection of the civilian population; it called upon Israel to apply the provisions of the Geneva Conventions which were still not being fully adhered to.
Bahrain highlighted the importance of item 7 which must be kept on the agenda of the Human Rights Council until the end of the occupation. It was regrettable that Israel was continuing its activities while ignoring all resolutions of the United Nations, including continuing its policies violating the Fourth Geneva Convention and its protocols. Israel was exploiting the issue of prisoners with a system of blackmail, and it should respect international human rights and put an end to the “judaization” of East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied Arab territories.
Iran said the report of the High Commissioner reaffirmed that impunity for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territories had been a long-standing concern articulated by the United Nations and civil society. Iran condemned the persistent colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories. The only solution to the issue was the restoration of the sovereign right to Palestine and putting an end to Israel’ decades-long occupation.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea said Israel continued to commit human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Syrian Golan and other occupied Arab territories. Such violations could never be justified or tolerated, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea urged Israel to cease its persistent violations of human rights and international law. The United States and some Western countries were also urged not to “patronize” Israel over its crimes against humanity.
Turkey said that the United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 had put on record the fact that the Israeli illegal settlement activities were destroying the possibility for a lasting peace and Turkey reiterated the call to Israel to take the hand extended with the Arab peace initiative, end the occupation and step into future harmony with its neighbours. The international community should address this crisis urgently, and Turkey would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, including those living in Gaza.
Angola noted with great concern that many of the recommendations addressed to the two parties to the conflict in the period 2009 to 2019 had not been met due to lack of accountability and difficulty in accessing justice. Angola advocated the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people as the cornerstone of the realization, respect and promotion of all fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, and said that this would only be achieved when the parties agreed to a peaceful and inclusive dialogue in the spirit of a two-State solution.
Oman said that the report by the High Commissioner reflected the extent of the violations being perpetrated and it revealed the lack of accountability and impunity for the Israeli violations of human rights, especially arbitrary detentions and the expansion of settlement activity. Oman agreed that Israel should take immediate action to put an end to all violations and ensure remedy for the victims. The international community should exercise its pressure on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
Gulf Cooperation Council stressed that support for the Palestinian cause was pivotal and strongly condemned the ongoing violations of human rights, especially the construction of Israeli settlements. United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 should be immediately implemented and the occupying power must shoulder its responsibilities to end the violations. Comprehensive and lasting peace could not be achieved without the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories, and the support for the Arab peace initiative.
Zimbabwe said it was disheartening that the report coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the occupation, and noted that non-cooperation was borne out by Israel’s refusal to allow access by United Nations mechanisms to the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel did not respond to inquiries sent to it with regard to the compilation of the report. Zimbabwe called on the international community to redouble its efforts to bring the conflict to an end by addressing Israel’s settlement activities.
Yemen said Israel had occupied Palestine for decades and had perpetrated violations, including settlement activities and the blockade. Yet some were calling for the deletion of item 7 from the agenda of the Human Rights Council. The unlawful settlement activities were at variance with international conventions and constituted aggression against the Palestinians. The international community was called on to address the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people and help them establish their independent State.
Lebanon said there was a need to maintain item 7 as an important item on the agenda of the Human Rights Council because the situation had no comparison. The list of violations was long and included Israel’s inhuman blockade. Boycotting the item was a form of double standard that encouraged Israel to continue its violations of international law.
Mozambique welcomed the report of the High Commissioner, and took note of its detailed account of the status of implementation of the 900 recommendations addressed to Israel and the State of Palestine since 2009 by the relevant United Nations bodies, including Human Rights Council mechanisms. Mozambique subscribed to follow up measures, including the ending of practices that continued to violate international law.
Sri Lanka shared concerns expressed in the High Commissioner’s report and believed that the Palestinian people had a legitimate right for statehood and to benefit from the natural resources in their territories. Sri Lanka urged the international community to make sure that Israel froze its settlement activities and, while recognizing the legitimate and sensitive security concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples, said that the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians only made realizing enduring peace a distant reality.
Viet Nam reaffirmed support for the legitimate right of Palestinian people for an independent State of Palestine with the realization of the two-State solution and stressed that the Palestinian people who lived in the occupied territories deserved the full enjoyment of a better life, their fundamental freedoms and human rights. The current conflict in the region could only be solved by peaceful negotiations, in accordance with international law, the United Nations Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions.
Mauritania was concerned about the serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories and said that the 50-year-long occupation was an untenable situation. The Palestinian people must be able to establish their independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Efforts to put an end to the occupation must be doubled, as it prevented the Palestinian people from fully enjoying their rights.
Morocco said that various reports and observers were unanimous that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was very concerning and was getting worse. The recommendations made to Israel by many human rights bodies were being ignored, and Israel continued with its aggressive colonialist and expansionist settlement policies. The Council had talked about the impact of settlement building on the situation on the ground.
Amuta for NGO Responsibility presented to the Human Rights Council a study on businesses in the occupied Palestinian territories. International businesses played a crucial role in occupations around the world. Two countries, Turkey and Morocco, which depended on such businesses, had both voted in favour of the relevant resolutions. Law knew no borders.
Palestinian Return Centre said Palestinians continued to suffer from Israel’s apartheid regime, and Palestinian refugees were still forcibly displaced since 1947. They were denied the right to return to their homeland. The humanitarian situation in Gaza was deteriorating. Israel must stop exploiting civilian lives for its gains. States had a collective duty to ensure accountability.
Touro Law Centre said the recent Human Rights Council report on accountability was indefensible. The Palestinian authority in Gaza, namely Hamas, was not included in the Palestinian armed groups, and the word “activities” was a new United Nations word for running over old men with their cars. The United Nations made 551 recommendations to democratic Israel, and 75 to undemocratic Palestinian authorities.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights reiterated its concern at Israel’s position of non-cooperation with United Nations Special Procedures, particularly the country-specific mandate. Israel was repeatedly failing to comply with the calls for accountability made by the entire international human rights system. Israel was required to provide evidence to rebut that clear presumption.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that the fiftieth anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was also that of the denial of Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Since 1948 Israel had committed systematic violations of human rights, many of which amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity, with impunity. Israel’s practices, especially settlements, had given Israel’s military occupation features of colonization and apartheid in violation of international law.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that the occupying power was ignoring the resolutions and violating international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and its Optional Protocol, and the resolutions of the Security Council and the decision of the International Court of Justice. This was not just a regional conflict, but was decisive for the international community as a whole and for global peace and security. Israel must stop building settlements and carrying out violence.
Defence for Children International said that Israel was the only country in the world that systematically prosecuted between 500 and 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights. In 2016, Israel had killed 32 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year of the past decade for the West Bank children.
World Jewish Congress wondered in which other Middle Eastern country could a gay parade take place, as it had recently taken place in Tel Aviv. Israel was the only country in the region where the majority of the population and the Government were Jewish and it urged the Council to treat Israel the same way as any other country, no better and no worse.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said that the Palestinian people had suffered too long under the Israeli’s occupation. Fifty years was enough. Member States had agreed in 2006 to have this agenda and they had reformed it again in 2001. It was important to stress that this agenda item was not about Israel but about the occupation.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said Palestinians continued to suffer, and it was disappointing to see Israel not taking part in a constructive dialogue to put an end to the suffering. A report on the situation should be reinstated immediately, and the members of the Council should take stricter measures to bring to an end the violations and hold Israel accountable for all human rights violations.
BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights said Israel continued to colonise territories, infringing on sovereign rights. The United States had said it would not allow the United Nations to bully Israel. There was a lack of political will to address the refugees’ right to return to their origins. Israel controlled Palestinian life with military checkpoints and excessive force, displacing Palestinians and colonising their land.
Union of Arab Jurists said the agenda item under discussion should be kept on the agenda as long as the occupation persisted. The occupation was a flagrant violation of Palestinians’ rights. The Government of Netanyahu would do nothing to help. The question was asked as to what the reasoning might be for those wanting to remove the agenda item from the list of issues under discussion.
Human Rights Watch said the international community should take more active measures to hold parties to their obligations under international law. States should oppose settlements and refrain from actions supporting settlements and their infrastructure. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza also demanded the attention of the Human Rights Council; Israel had kept Gaza mostly closed for the last decade.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said that with the occupation of the Palestinian territories, including the demolition of homes and the blockade of Gaza, Israel continued to flaunt international law and resolutions by the Security Council and this Council. Israel’s occupation had committed at least five grave violations of international humanitarian law, including killing, restriction of movement, and others. International law was not enough to protect the rights of the Palestinian people.
World Muslim Congress said that the brutal and oppressive occupation systematically deprived the Palestinian people of almost all their basic human rights. Despite the condemnation by virtually all States, Israel continued to build illegal settlements and to drive Palestinians out of their homes through a system of oppression, in which Palestinians were arbitrarily killed and arrested almost every day.
International-Lawyers.Org called attention to the systematic violation of human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, which warranted the continued attention of this Council. As every Member State of this Council was aware, each State had a responsibility to respond to acts of genocide and in light of this, an investigation should be undertaken to ascertain whether the actions of Israel reached the proportion of genocide.
American Association of Jurists noted that Israel had denied the right to self-determination to the Palestinian people, as well as their right to return. The human rights record was unbearable not only for the political and military Israeli leaders, who would one day be held accountable before international justice, but also for the international community and for the United Nations, whose principles had been trampled.
United Nations Watch reminded that all established democracies in the Council had abstained from debate under item 7 because of its discriminatory and one-sided treatment of Israel. The debate was designed to invert terrorists and victims. Why was the United Nations still trying to implement the Goldstone report?
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in a joint statement, voiced concern over the daily human rights violations and racial segregation and discrimination against the Palestinian people. It urged the Human Rights Council to put pressure on Israel to uphold its international human rights obligations, and to halt the construction of Israeli settlements.
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches said there had been a record number of demolitions, arrests and detentions, renewed large-scale clamp-downs on civil society dissent, and the increasing normalization of calls by politicians to abandon the two-State solution. About 2,000 soldiers were protecting a few settlers, and checkpoints had been built, increasing the restriction of movement and hindering the right to education.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said the Israeli occupation seemed to have no end in sight, and residency revocations were used to forcibly transfer Palestinians. More than 260 Palestinians had been killed, and in Gaza a man-made humanitarian crisis was worsening due to 10 years of illegal collective punishment. Member States of the Human Rights Council were steered away from their obligation toward the promotion and protection of human rights.
Al Haq Law in the Service of Man said Israel aimed to remove the indigenous Palestinian people from their land. For the past five decades, the international community had stood idly by as settlers were transferred into the occupied Palestinian territories and Palestinians were transferred out. In the Gaza Strip, a man-made humanitarian disaster had been created. Should current conditions persist, the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable by 2020.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle stressed the importance of this agenda item and drew the attention of the Council to the escalation of the violations by Israel in East Jerusalem, including emptying it of Arabs, and the provocation of Muslims in mosques, including in Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel should put an end to provocations and take measures to prevent further violations.
B'nai B'rith, in a joint statement with, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, commended the actions of the Secretary-General for his courageous action in ordering the removal of a biased document from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia website, which had also led to the forced resignation of the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
European Union of Jewish Students asked the Council to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted by the European Union Parliament and a number of countries. This Council continuously singled out Israel, more than any other nation, and this was an evidence of a double standard against Israel, the only Jewish State.
Africa Culture Internationale, in a joint statement, drew attention to the 11-year blockade of Gaza, which had deprived citizens of their freedom of movement and the right to food. Continued international silence on the blockade was a violation of the international human rights instruments. The organizations called on all countries to put pressure to end the blockade and to cease settlement expansion.
Servas International voiced deep concern about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which had entered a very critical stage and had led to tremendous human suffering for all sides. An end of the occupation had to be brought about without any delay. Maintaining the situation would only be a prolongation of the pain and suffering. The longer the international community hesitated, the more it would lose its credibility.
For use of the information media; not an official record