Human Rights Council
18 March 2019
The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting held a general debate on the situation of human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
Presenting four reports concerning the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories, Andrew Gilmour, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said the High Commissioner’s eleventh periodic report on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory provided an overview of recurring violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel, the State of Palestine, and the authorities in Gaza. The second report described the impact of continued settlement expansion on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and noted a significant rise in settler violence, whilst settlement planning had increased at a high rate. The third report provided an update on matters related to accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties, in connection with the 2014 escalation of violence in Gaza. The fourth report focused on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, based on the information received from Member States on human rights violations in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Israel was not present in the room to take the floor as the concerned country.
Speaking as the concerned country, State of Palestine said it was ready to shoulder its legal responsibilities. However, a lion’s share of the responsibility to end the violence and bring about peace lay with the occupying power. It expressed concern that the database of companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territory had not yet been made public by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was the duty of the Human Rights Council and the international community to provide protection to the Palestinian people.
Syrian Arab Republic, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the children of the occupied Syrian Golan still held on to their Syrian identity, despite the violations perpetrated by Israel. Israeli policies had been stepped up to try to legally recognize the annexation of the Syrian Golan and were geared towards imposing Israeli law on the children of Golan through the expansion of settlements and the confiscation of fertile lands and water. It was the role and responsibility of the Human Rights Council to ask Israel to respect the rights of the people of the occupied Syrian Golan.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers condemned the sharp increase of the Palestinian fatalities and injuries related to the conflict with Israel and the ongoing protests in Gaza. The continued settlement expansion in the West Bank and the increased number of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian property, including punitive demolitions, were unacceptable and they undermined the two-State solution. Speakers were dismayed at the decision of some countries to refer item seven to other items on the Council’s agenda, which was a reflection of the will to belittle the issue. They reiterated the importance of item seven as an integral part of the Council’s agenda; it was a standing agenda item as long as Israel’s occupation continued. The gross human rights violations against Palestinians had continued for six decades and speakers called on the international community to shoulder its moral, legal and humanitarian responsibility and to end the occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories. They urged all parties to resume peace talks and to refrain from all actions that could undermine the credibility of the peace process. Some speakers expressed outrage that the Council had launched an unprecedented assault on the rights of Israelis. It was time for the United Nations to end its bigotry and prejudice, and its demonization of the Jewish people.
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Angola on behalf of the African Group, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, Oman on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan, Cuba, Tunisia, Somalia, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Egypt, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Senegal, China, Nigeria, South Africa, Chile, Jordan, Libya, Djibouti, Bolivia, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Algeria, Slovenia, Iran, Sri Lanka, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Turkey, Ecuador, Indonesia, Sweden, Nicaragua, Luxembourg, Viet Nam, Sudan and Morocco.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, Norwegian Refugee Council, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, United Nations Watch, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), World Jewish Congress, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International-Lawyers.Org, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Touro Law Center, The Institute on Human Rights and The Holocaust, Institute for NGO Research, Human Rights Watch, Ingénieurs du Monde, International Federation of Journalists, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea, Network of Women's Non-governmental Organizations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) (in a joint statement with American Association of Jurists), Defence for Children International, Guinea Medical Mutual Association, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, World Muslim Congress, Meezaan Center for Human Rights, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Servas International, B'nai B'rith, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Women's International Zionist Organization, Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA", International Commission of Jurists, and ADALAH - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
The Council will next begin a general debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
The Council has before it Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan - Report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/40/41).
The Council has before it Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/40/42).
The Council has before it Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/40/43).
Presentation of Reports
ANDREW GILMOUR, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, introduced four reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories. The High Commissioner’s eleventh periodic report on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory provided an overview of recurring violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Israel, the State of Palestine, and the authorities in Gaza. The report highlighted serious concerns regarding the excessive use of force by the Israeli Security Forces, with 274 Palestinians killed, including 50 children, with over 24,000 injured during the reporting period. During the period, 11 Israelis had been killed by Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.
The second report described the impact of continued settlement expansion on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and noted a significant rise in settler violence, whilst settlement planning had increased at a high rate. Demolitions of schools and houses leading to forced evictions were being carried out on the basis of highly discriminatory planning practices, in contravention of international law. The third report provided an update on matters related to accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties, in connection with the 2014 escalation of violence in Gaza. The report noted the connection between impunity and continued cycles of violence. Although 114 criminal investigations had been opened across the occupied Palestinian territory and almost 700 Palestinian civilians had been killed, only three indictments had been issued against Israeli soldiers for the killing of Palestinian civilians. The fourth report focused on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, based on the information received from Member States on human rights violations in the occupied Syrian Golan.
As reflected in the four reports presented, this was another very difficult year in terms of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory. The most shocking development had been a huge loss of life, leading to an already crippled healthcare system being completely overwhelmed. The expansion in settlements and related violence had continued to rise, and Mr. Gilmour expressed concern at the Israel authorities’ failure to protect Palestinians when attacks occurred. The situation in Hebron was especially worrying, and he regretted Israel’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, which had played a critical role in mitigating human rights violations and bearing witness to those violations that did occur. The reports also addressed the issue of arbitrary detention, as Palestinians continued to be subject to arrest and detention by Israeli authorities and journalists and other political opponents were detained by the Palestinian authorities. Mr. Gilmour deplored the brutal repression carried out by Hamas security forces in recent days and reiterated that human rights violations by all sides were not just symptoms of the conflict, but further perpetuated the cycle of violence. That was why those responsible must be brought to justice.
Statements by Concerned Countries
Israel was not in the room to take the floor as the concerned country.
State of Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, reaffirmed its readiness to shoulder its legal responsibilities and underlined that the lion’s share of the responsibility to end the violence and bring about peace lay with the occupying power. The fact that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had not yet made public the database on companies operating in the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory was a cause of concern. Israel’s continued boycott of agenda item seven was underpinned by its ongoing and worsening violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, said the State of Palestine; the occupying power was practising its crimes with impunity and the Human Rights Council and the international community had a duty to protect the Palestinian people. The State of Palestine furthermore expressed concern about the recent adoption by Israel of a racist law on the Jewish nation-state as it denied the ties of the Palestinian people to their land and abolished the possibility of two States. The law was a confirmation that the Israeli Government was not committed to peace.
Syrian Arab Republic, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the children in the occupied Syrian Golan still held on to their Syrian identity, despite the violations perpetrated by Israel. The punitive and discriminatory measures of the occupying power were a clear demonstration of the negation of their civil and political rights. Israel had stepped up its policies to try to legally recognize the annexation of the Syrian Golan, including by imposing Israeli law on the children of Golan through the expansion of settlements and confiscation of fertile lands and water. The occupying power pillaged property in local villages and asked Syrians to provide deeds to their property. Israel was able to behave in such a manner due to the support it received from the United States and allies. The American campaign against the Human Rights Council was geared to removing agenda item seven. The Syrian Arab Republic underscored the role and responsibility of the Human Rights Council in asking Israel to respect the rights of the people of the occupied Syrian Golan and stressed that the sovereign right to recover the Golan Heights was an inalienable right. The people of Golan had rejected the elections and would challenge the decisions made by the Israeli authorities to annex Golan.
General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stated its disappointment that several Member States of the Human Rights Council no longer participated in this agenda item. This was a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of the Council. The Jewish Nation-State bill had turned the de facto apartheid regime into a de jure reality for historic Palestine. The unilateral decision by Israel not to renew the mandate of the International Presence in Hebron was condemned. Israel was more interested in annexing Palestine than in a lasting peace.
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed its position of solidarity with the Palestinian people and urged the international community to exert pressure on Israel to immediately cease the construction and the expansion of the settlements which were illegal under international law. Furthermore, Israel must be held accountable for its continued grave and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Syrian Golan.
Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that seven decades of Israeli military occupation of the Arab territories continued to take a heavy toll on lives, livelihoods, and fundamental freedoms of the people living under the occupation. There must be an immediate end to the occupation and to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, and to other forms of collective punishment. The Arab Group was concerned about the “Jewish Nation State” bill aiming to legitimize institutional discrimination against Arab citizens in Israel.
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, was dismayed at the decision of some countries to refer item seven to other items on the Council’s agenda, which was a reflection of the will to belittle the issue. The Arab Group condemned the recent targeting of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as Israel’s exacerbation of attacks on families of political prisoners. The Arab Group called on the international community to shoulder its moral, legal and humanitarian responsibility and to end the occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories.
Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, stressed its steadfast position regarding the Palestinian cause and recalled that the ongoing violations against the Palestinians was one of the main reasons for which the Council had been established. The group rejected the marginalization of the issue in the face of the full impunity enjoyed by the occupying power and called on the international community to take tangible measures to hold the perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable.
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), speaking on behalf of a group of countries, rejected the indiscriminate use of force by Israel against Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, as well as the unilateral decision taken by the United States to recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Numerous reports revealed a series of serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory. The group reiterated its commitment to finding a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Pakistan said that the long-suffering Palestinian people continued to face well-entrenched and systematic violations of their fundamental human rights at the hands of the Israeli occupation. Pakistan strongly condemned the forceful closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound, which was inhumane and a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, international law, and the right to freedom of religion. Pakistan called for public mobilization at all levels to protect the Mosque.
Cuba recalled that the only guarantee for a far-reaching and lasting solution to the conflict was the two-State solution and the respect for the Palestinian people to live in peace and exercise sovereignty in their own lands within the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. The violations of human rights of the Palestinian people were not only continuing but were worsening, thus this item must remain on the agenda of the Council for attempts to remove it served only to try to legitimate those violations.
Tunisia said that not a day passed without Israeli actions that reflected its continued arbitrary provocative policies that flaunted all international resolutions and imposed a de facto situation in the building of illegal settlements and the forced displacement of Palestinians. The failure of the international community to put an end to Israeli violations had made Israel believe that it was above the law. This did not serve the cause of peace but was detrimental to justice and brought despair.
Somalia reiterated support for the Palestinian people and for their right to a State with East Jerusalem as its capital. The continuing Israeli occupation of Arab lands, denying the Palestinians their dignity, the daily killings, and the humiliations inflicted upon the Palestinian people were of great concern. Somalia condemned the excessive use of force by the Israeli security forces against peaceful Palestinians protestors at the Gaza fence.
Iraq deplored the suffering of the Palestinian people and condemned Israel’s actions in regard to agricultural land, homes, and the increase in settlement construction. They called on Israel to implement all relevant Security Council resolutions and called on the international community to put an end to Israel’s non-cooperation with the Human Rights Council.
Qatar underlined the importance of keeping this item on the Council’s agenda, which was an important measure for maintaining pressure on Israel for their continuing violations against the Palestinian people. Qatar called on the international community to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to end the occupation and to pursue a long-term solution to the issue, including establishing a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Saudi Arabia reiterated the importance of this item as an integral part of the Council’s agenda and stressed that it must remain a standing agenda item for as long as Israel’s occupation continued. Gross human rights violations against Palestinians had continued for decades, said Saudi Arabia and called on the Human Rights Council to pressure Israel to put an end to the occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories.
Uruguay regretted that the reports confirmed once again the critical human rights situation to which the local people were subjected in the occupied Palestinian territory and called on the occupying power to remedy the situation and cooperate with the existing mechanisms. Uruguay reiterated its robust appeal to both parties to fully respect international human rights law and to refrain from taking any measures that could exacerbate the situation.
Egypt regretted the challenges endured by the Palestinian people and all other Arabs in the occupied territories, such as forced displacement, and expressed concern that the non-extension of the international presence in Hebron could lead to a deterioration in the situation. The Council should shoulder its responsibility for not having adequately addressed the situation of the Palestinian people. Egypt would exert all efforts for peace to prevail and to bring about a two-State solution.
Bahrain reiterated its support for enabling the Palestinians to enforce their rights in the framework of international law and relevant legitimacy resolutions. The human rights violations, arbitrary detentions, and the embargo on the Gaza Strip had led to a deterioration of humanitarian, social and economic conditions in Palestine. Bahrain stressed that the action of Israel was based on its belief that the international community was weak.
Bangladesh strongly condemned the recent acts of aggression, the latest being on 14 March 2019 by Israeli settlers on the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which was Islam’s third holiest place. The expansion of Israeli settlements must be halted, Bangladesh stressed, adding that the world was witnessing a deeply frustrating scenario in the Middle East peace process, with no prospect of a resumption of negotiations and major countries backtracking from previous commitments.
Senegal noted that the living conditions of Palestinians continued to worsen and noted with concern the great number of constraints imposed by Israel, including the restriction on the freedom of movement, the expansion of settlements, and the excessive use of force. Senegal reiterated its appeal for the resumption of negotiations that would lead to a political resolution of the conflict and the creation of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
China believed the Palestinian issue was at the centre and was the source of the Middle East conflict. The United Nations should increase its support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and take a long-term view to bring the Palestinian and Israeli governments back to a negotiated settlement. China supported a Palestinian State based on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Nigeria reiterated its concern about the continued occupation of the Palestinian and other Arab territories by the State of Israel and urged Israel to implement the numerous resolutions adopted by the United Nations against the occupation. The ultimate solution to this long struggle was the establishment of a State for the Palestinians with East Jerusalem as its capital.
South Africa said that the reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner showed the importance of maintaining this agenda item to enable the Council to continue to discuss the actions taken by Israel. South Africa was concerned about the credible allegations of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Israeli Security Forces and was deeply concerned that plans were underway to annex sections of the Palestinian territory outright and to gradual impose a single State on the territories.
Chile reiterated its conviction that it was necessary to advance with the two-State solution, which would afford the Palestinian people the right to establish an independent State. At the same time, it would guarantee Israel the right to live in peace within safe and internationally recognized borders. Chile was particularly concerned about the 189 civilian deaths and more than 6,000 injured during the great march between March and December 2018.
Jordan highlighted that the mission in the Arab occupied territories was to try to preserve religious sites. The measures undertaken by Israel should be a concern because they countered international law. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East should be able to carry out its activities, ensuring safe return and remedy to the Palestinian people.
Libya strongly condemned the systematic violations of human rights of the Palestinian people, namely the demolition of homes, arbitrary arrests, Judaization of Jerusalem, and the building of walls. The occupying power still practiced the unjustified blockade of the Gaza Strip, not to mention illegal settlement activities. Libya stressed that the Palestinian question had to always remain on the Council’s agenda.
Djibouti was fundamentally attached to keeping item seven on the agenda of the Council, as it constituted an indispensable mechanism to ensure accountability for violations of the human rights of Palestinians. It was indispensable to bring to an end the occupation, the building of settlements, the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, and other forms of collective punishment faced by the Palestinian people.
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) said that the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and their negative impact were obvious from the report. There had to be accountability for human rights violations. The inhuman embargo on Gaza had been ongoing for 10 years. Bolivia was firmly committed to international efforts, which led to a fair and lasting solution for both peoples. The solution was in two States and in line with the United Nations resolutions
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) expressed its solidarity with the brotherly people of Palestine. The use of torture and arbitrary detention of Palestinians was condemned, as well as the decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer its embassy there. This move undermined the sovereignty of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people and sabotaged efforts to find a durable and peaceful solution.
Russian Federation condemned the actions of the Israeli forces, including their policies of collective punishment. The arbitrary action by the United States to stop funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East would have dire consequences, and Russia categorically condemned this. Direct negotiations without preconditions must be renewed, and a two-State solution was needed to resolve the issue.
United Arab Emirates expressed their concern over the failure of some States to take part in the agenda item seven discussions, causing serious consequences for the suffering of the Palestinian people. The actions of Israel breached many aspects of international humanitarian law, including forced detention, and the ongoing blockade. The United Arab Emirates had donated over $1 billion dollars to the Palestinian people, and continued to support their cause.
Maldives reaffirmed its unwavering support for the Palestinian people, and their right to self-determination. The actions of Israel, including arbitrary detentions, forced displacement, and the strategy of taking over Palestinian lands were condemned in the strongest terms. The failure to address this issue by the Council would yet again be a failure to address the human rights abuses carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voiced grave concern about the continued human rights violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories, despite repeated warnings by the international community. It called on Israel to stop killing civilians in those territories and to abide by international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It voiced solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for self-determination.
Algeria reiterated the importance of keeping item seven on the Council’s agenda until the Israeli occupation came to an end. Israel was violating fundamental freedoms in the occupied Arab territories and Algeria condemned its siege of Gaza. Israel continued to limit the freedom of movement for Palestinians and to implement the policies of arbitrary detention. Algeria condemned the ending of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
Slovenia condemned the increase of Palestinian fatalities and injuries related to the conflict with Israel and the ongoing protests in Gaza. Continued settlement expansion in the West Bank and the increased number of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian property, including punitive demolitions, were unacceptable and undermined the two-State solution. Slovenia urged all parties to resume peace talks and to refrain from all actions that could undermine the credibility of the peace process.
Islamic Republic of Iran said that for over seven decades Israel had continued to commit atrocities against the Palestinian people, including innocent children. The findings of the Commission were truly shocking. Israel’s violation of international humanitarian law amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. States had a moral responsibility to call for putting an end to the systematic violation of the basic human rights of the Palestinians, as well as the liberation of the Syrian Golan.
Sri Lanka said that the ongoing economic blockade, the lack of access to essential services, the destruction of the basic infrastructure, and the existence of a coercive environment hindered the socio-economic rights of the Palestinian people under occupation. Of nearly two million Palestinian residents in Gaza, one-half were children, and the funding crisis that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was facing had an even more constraining impact on existing conditions.
Oman reiterated its principled position on the Palestinian question. There would be no peace in the Middle East without acceptance of a sovereign Palestinian State. This was a major question on the United Nations agenda, and item seven in the Council was extremely important. Israel had to withdraw from all occupying territories, including the Syrian Golan, and any attempt to marginalize the Palestinian question should be combatted.
Yemen said the Gaza Strip was under a blockade, and Palestinians suffered from land expulsions and arbitrary detentions. The Israeli occupying power was guilty of breaching article 4 of the Geneva Convention, as well as using excessive force, and imposing collective punishment on the Palestinians. The Human Rights Council must hold Israel responsible, put a stop to Israel’s actions, and establish a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Lebanon said that item seven was boycotted because Israel believed it was above the law. The international community had witnessed a concerted effort to expel Palestinians from their homes, and a domestic Israeli law was recently passed which discriminated against Palestinians and the Palestinian people. Israel was continuing its settlement strategy and Lebanon called on it to stop.
Turkey said the root cause of the problem was that the occupied territories remained under Israeli control, with the Palestinians under a blockade. In order to put an end to this, the international community should act swiftly. The establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital was the only solution. Turkey called on the international community to ensure that such an outcome was reached.
Ecuador reaffirmed the right of the States of Palestine and Israel to exist peacefully, calling for an immediate end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Ecuador called for a peaceful solution to the conflict and condemned Israel’s human rights violations.
Indonesia said item seven remained pertinent as long as the Palestinian people continued to face daily hardship and were deprived of their fundamental human rights. The involvement of multinational corporations in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories contributed to the undeterred expansion of these settlements by Israel. Indonesia called on the Office of the High Commissioner to immediately publish the database of these corporations.
Sweden noted that since last year, the violence by Israeli settlers had tripled. The termination of the mandate in Hebron, where Sweden had been active for 22 years, was regrettable and the situation in Hebron was deeply worrying, particularly the violence against Palestinian school children. Sweden recalled Security Council resolution 2334 and the need for its implementation, and condemned the continued expansion of illegal settlements by Israel.
Nicaragua was profoundly concerned about the ongoing human rights violations in Palestine and other occupied territories. Those seeking to remove item seven from the Council’s agenda were contributing to impunity committed by the occupying power. The illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip continued to systematically violate human rights. The international community had failed the Palestinians, and this had to change.
Luxembourg was deeply concerned about the escalation of violence and loss of life, particularly in Gaza. Such violence could not be in the interest of Palestine or Israel. The right to healthcare, water and education had to be ensured. Illegal settlements were a breeding ground for hate. Despite the current situation, Luxembourg was convinced that the two-State solution was the only solution.
Viet Nam reaffirmed its support for the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to an independent State, within the framework of the two-State solution. It shared the view that the Palestinian people who lived in the occupied territories deserved to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms fully. Viet Nam was also of the view that the current conflict in the region could only be solved by peaceful negotiations, and in accordance with international law, the United Nations Charter and related United Nations resolutions.
Sudan stated that the Israeli occupation had continued to violate all rights of the Palestinian people. It deeply regretted that some Western countries had boycotted agenda item seven while others tried to diminish its importance. Sudan called on the international community to shoulder its responsibility and protect the Palestinian people. Sudan reiterated its unwavering support for the Palestinian people and their right to an independent State.
Morocco said that the reports reflected the many systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians. The Israeli authorities were working on changing the demographic, economic and social situation of the Palestinian people in order to undermine the establishment of their independent State. Morocco reiterated its condemnation of all practices that sought to erase the Islamic characteristics of Jerusalem.
National Human Rights Council of Egypt, in a video statement, said the excessive use of force against Palestinian protestors, the blurring of the foundations of the Palestinian cause by declaring the seizure of Jerusalem, and the cessation of the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the undermining of the “two state-Solution” by intensifying settlements were all contributing to the violation of Palestinian legitimate rights.
Independent Commission for Human Rights of the State of Palestine said Israel had systematically sought to consolidate and transform its occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories into a longstanding open-ended regime. The Jewish-Nation State bill targeted Palestinians and promoted settlements and expansions into the occupied Palestinian territories as it legalized displacement and replacement of the Palestinians with Jewish settlers.
The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd was concerned that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had postponed the release of the database of companies conducting business in the illegal Israeli settlements in the colonized West Bank, which allowed profits to be made in impunity. It called on the High Commissioner to set a date for the release and provide guidance to businesses operating within the settlements on how to stop their activity and cease their complicity with human rights violations.
Norwegian Refugee Council was alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the persistent violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and stressed that more effective measures must be taken until the violations ended. The fulfilment of the obligations to respect international humanitarian law could prove politically challenging, it must not serve as grounds to refuse to take all the necessary measures.
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches expressed its grave concern about the increase in settler violence in Hebron H2 area. Last year there had been increased violence from Israeli settlers towards human rights observers, almost on a daily basis. Settlers encouraged Israeli soldiers to interfere in their favour and settler organizations were openly working towards removing all international observers from Hebron.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights urged States to support findings of the Commission by voting in favour of the tabled resolution on ensuring accountability this week. It was essential to put effective follow-up. The 11-year closure of Gaza had led to extreme poverty there, including the highest unemployment rate in the world, daily power blackouts and severe pollution. Israeli authorities restricted the fishing zone to between three and six nautical miles.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence noted that the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank had resulted in the forced migration of Palestinians and this demonstrated the intent to change the demographic situation. The organization called on the international community and international organizations to caution Israeli officials about their disregard for international law.
United Nations Watch recalled that members of some European Union parliaments had addressed a major protest rally which denounced the inherent discrimination of agenda item seven. Some 12,000 persons had signed a petition on anti-Israel prejudice in the United Nations. They expressed outrage that the Council had launched an unprecedented assault on the rights of Israelis. It had issued five biased reports. It was time for the United Nations to end its bigotry and prejudice, and demonization of the Jewish people.
Ingénieurs du Monde listed the names of Governments that had spoken during the discussion on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories, which said it all: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Egypt, and Lebanon. The speaker was cut off by the President.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that Israel’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Institute for Peace in Hebron aimed at increasing limitations imposed on the daily lives of Palestinians, pushing them to leave the city of Hebron. It called on the Council to support the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man said forced evictions, the ongoing forcible transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem and discriminatory planning and zoning was an attempt to alter the city’s demographic composition and character. This was a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and may amount to a war crime when carried out as a widespread systematic attack on a civilian population.
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said he was a first-hand witness, one of the 19 medics shot at during the protests, and he had seen only peaceful protests. He said medics should not be in fear of returning to work and providing medical care in the occupied Palestinian territories.
World Jewish Congress condemned the use of children by Palestinian soldiers, and the weaponization of heart breaking images of children put in harms’ way by Hamas. This was what Hamas did in the territory every day. The Human Rights Council was not defending human rights; it was the tool of those seeking to cynically exploit child soldiers in the territories.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies regretted the continued delay in the publication of the United Nations database of companies involved in Israeli settlements. Israeli settlements and their ongoing expansion continued to result in the forcible transfer of resources, held the Palestinian economy hostage, and was a war crime as affirmed by the Commission. United Nations Member States must demonstrate leadership to ensure that the mandate of the database was fulfilled.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues stated that companies that interacted with settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories were facilitating this illegal activity. Yet three years after the mandate for a database of companies involved in Israeli settlements was established, there was still no such database. This state of affairs detrimentally affected millions of Palestinians, and they urged the High Commissioner to commit to a date for publication.
International-Lawyers.Org called the Council to put an end to human rights abuses occurring in Palestine. In Gaza, unarmed civilians including children, medical personnel, journalists and persons with disabilities had been victims of live ammunition by soldiers, particularly during the great march protests. As all actions were taken with the intention to destroy Palestinian people, the Council was urged to investigate whether Israel was committing genocide against the people of Palestine.
International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists said that the main obstacle to the efficiency of the Human Rights Council was its disproportionate focus on Israel. The human and financial expenses were predominantly focusing on this subject. The Council had adopted 25 resolutions condemning Israel and this made up 30 per cent of the overall number of resolutions condemning States for human rights situations.
Touro Law Center, The Institute on Human Rights and The Holocaust said that Israel was a free and democratic State, but the media was not telling the truth. As the Council recently showed, hatred towards the Jewish State existed, and it was fuelled by anti-Semitism sweeping through European States and north America. Demonizing the Jewish State was a way to progress in career.
Institute for NGO Research said Michelle Bachelet was correct to delay the release of the database as the vast majority of firms were involved in bringing basic needs and protection to civilians, that was to illegal Israeli settlers. Hundreds were protesting against the publication of this black list outside the United Nations as she spoke.
Human Rights Watch said it was urgent for the High Commissioner to issue the report on businesses facilitating illegal settlements and encouraged her to provide the International Criminal Court with information about the perpetrators of alleged crimes. The lead sponsors had tabled the accountability resolution under item 2 rather than item seven, the onus was on States, particularly the European Union, using item seven as a shield to demonstrate they were acting in good faith by now supporting the resolution on its merits.
International Federation of Journalists said last year had witnessed increased violence against journalists in occupied Palestinian territories. The Israeli Defence Forces had committed 880 crimes and had shut down many media outlets. It called on the Council to send a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the situation and submit a report supporting the resolution to end impunity for all who attacked journalists.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations welcomed the draft resolutions tabled at this Council meeting, and supported the findings of the Commission of Inquiry. They were deeply concerned about the concerted effort to have agenda item seven removed from discussions, and by sowing division amongst Member States of the Council. They called on all Member States to engage constructively to investigate the actions of the State of Israel.
Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea welcomed the work of the Commission of Inquiry and noted its findings. They called for the Council to take note of these findings, and for measures to be taken, targeting particularly Israeli decision makers who were complicit in crimes against Palestinians. They also called for Israel to end the 13-year-old blockade immediately and without condition.
Network of Women's Non-governmental Organizations in the Islamic Republic of Iran stated that across the Middle East, due to wars, women had suffered abuse as a result of disability and the loss of their guardians such as their fathers or husbands. Millions of women today in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine were facing serious barriers in their path to progress, and were deprived of their rights in the areas of health and economy due to war.
International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) strongly condemned persistent violations of international law by the Israeli State that was committing systematic human rights violations and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, which might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. All resolutions reaffirmed the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.
Defence for Children International said that each year, an estimated 500-700 Palestinian children were detained from the occupied West Bank and prosecuted in Israel military courts. Israel forces placed at least 22 children in isolation solely for interrogation purposes for a period of 48 hours or more. Israeli authorities had to stop the practice of using isolation and solitary confinement.
Guinea Medical Mutual Association said that the violation of mental health human rights violations represented a global crisis. Human rights violations of people with psychosocial disabilities remained pervasive and included misdiagnosis, stigmatisation and discrimination leading to the denial of the right to exercise legal capacity. The speaker was cut off by the President.
Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture was concerned about the illegal activities in Israeli prisons where the use of magnetic waves could be detrimental to inmates and where conditions were deplorable. Although many international organizations had been meeting for a long time, in Geneva and elsewhere, demanding the respect of international humanitarian law, the protection of the Palestinians was not yet a reality.
World Muslim Congress raised concern about ongoing violations of rights of the Palestinians exercising their right to protest. The World Muslim Congress urged the continuation and expansion of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry until an effective criminal jurisdiction was applied against those who violated or ordered the violation of international humanitarian law.
Meezaan Center for Human Rights noted that Jerusalem was crumbling because of the pressure of the Israeli Government. It was being Judaized. The world had forgotten that Jerusalem was an Islamic city. The organization pointed out to the arbitrary arrest of Palestinian women, children and the elderly, and to the fact that the holy sites in Jerusalem were being desecrated. Israel had transformed Jerusalem as its capital and had accepted embassies being transferred there.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme regretted that the United Nations Security Council resolutions had been blocked by the United States’ veto. Unfortunately, the United States supported Israel as its ally. The Israeli arrogance came with the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem. There were more arrests and there was a wall of separation, an apartheid. The Palestinians would continue to fight until they received justice.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” condemned in the strongest terms the embargo on the Gaza Strip mounted by the Israeli authorities, as well as systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people. It reminded that the Special Rapporteur had outlined the deliberate killings and war crimes committed against children. The international community had to hold Israel accountable.
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights stated that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law, and therefore the establishment of a database of companies involved in activities in the occupied territories would serve to ensure that companies were not complicit in the act of confiscation of land, and other illegal activities. The non-governmental organization called for the immediate publication of this database.
Servas International recognized that as a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be achieved instantly, Israel could take some immediate steps, including stopping its practice of arresting and detaining children as young as five. The Israeli occupation had led to a system of discrimination where Palestinians were subject to military tribunals while illegal settlers were tried under the civil legal institutions.
B'nai B'rith remarked that today there were territories occupied by one or another party but only the lands under Israeli control were subjected to endless and one-sided attention by this Council. In countries tarnished by the most systemic human rights atrocities, this Council and activists did not advocate a boycott of commercial and other engagement, so why had it singled out for hostility those engaged with the democratic Jewish State?
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said that the policies of collective punishment affected all layers of the Palestinian society - men, women, the ill, the infirm, activists, parliamentarians had all been subjected to arbitrary arrests in occupied Palestine. In 2018, over 5,000 had been arrested. An end must be put to those practices.
Women's International Zionist Organization said that for millennia, women and Jews had been placed on a lower rung of the ladder of the society, forced to accept that they had no power to determine their fate. Feminism and Zionism liberated women and Jews in the name of equality. The revolution would continue until this Council and governments and people around the world stopped trying to send both to the dark ages.
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA" said there had been a rise in attacks against Palestinian journalists in 2018 and reaffirmed that journalists were still vulnerable to Israeli attacks. The speaker called on the Council to follow up on violations by Israel, the occupying power, against journalists and the freedom of the press.
International Commission of Jurists regretted the delay in publishing the database of enterprises involved in business activity in the occupied Palestinian territory and stressed the responsibility of all States, including home States of the companies involved, to prevent and address the breaches of international human rights law. The prompt publishing of the list of companies would encourage all companies to comply with their human rights obligations.
ADALAH - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel reminded that Israeli snipers continued to intentionally shoot at the participants in the Gaza great march of return without fear of consequences. This reality existed because of a deep and chronic failure of the Israeli investigation system which effectively provided a shield of impunity to security forces. Israeli investigations fell short of international standards and were but ink on paper.
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