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

23 September 2016

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. 

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, asked whether three years of the boycott of this agenda item by some States had helped the improvement of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories or had it worsened the human rights violations committed by the occupying power?  Israel was still playing the victim, claiming that it was the target of attacks, while the truth was that Israel was the party that violated human rights. 

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said that the boycott of this agenda item by the United States and its European Union allies was evidence of their political hypocrisy and it helped Israel continue its violations.  The continued selectivity and double standards were indeed the root causes of the lack of credibility of the Human Rights Council.  Syria said that the Israeli occupation still gravelly limited the exercise of the basic human rights of the Syrian people in the occupied Golan, and was still expanding the settlement activity in the area. 

The President noted that Israel was not present in the room to take the floor.

In the general debate, delegations stressed the long-running nature of the conflict, and also the urgency for the international community to address the situation.  Delegations noted the dangers of impunity for human rights violations.  There were repeated appeals for the Human Rights Council to retain the agenda item under discussion.  Many underlined the need for the parties to negotiate toward a two State solution with a viable Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel, within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders based on the 1967 borders.  One speaker said that the occupation of territories, destruction of infrastructure, arbitrary detention, continuation of settlements, among other violations, were a systematic attempt to make a people disappear.  This was genocide. 

Speaking during the debate were the delegations of Pakistan on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Sudan on behalf of the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Nicaragua on behalf of a group of countries, Maldives, Qatar, Ecuador, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, South Africa, Algeria, Venezuela, Morocco, China, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Indonesia, Bolivia,  Bangladesh, Namibia, Pakistan, Brazil, Turkey, Libya, Senegal, Malaysia, Chile, Egypt, Kuwait, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Nicaragua, Oman, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, Defence for Children International, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Arab Commission for Human Rights, World Jewish Congress, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (joint statement), International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Union of Arab Jurists, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (joint statement), Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, International-Lawyers.org, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, United Nations Watch, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturel, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights (joint statement), and Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul.

Speaking in right of reply were Chile and Bolivia.

The Human Rights Council will next meet on Monday, September 26 at 9 a.m., to hold an annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective.  Following the end of that meeting, it will conclude its general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.  It will then hold a general debate on follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  At 3 p.m., it will hold an interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, before holding a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  

General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab territories

Statements by Concerned Countries

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, asked whether three years of the boycott of this agenda item by some States had helped the improvement of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories or had it worsened the human rights violations committed by the occupying power.  Israel was still playing the victim, claiming that it was the target of attacks, while the truth was that Israel was the party that violated human rights.  Israel had lynched 104 persons since the beginning of the year, including seven just last week; it also prevented the movement of ambulances and emergency aid personnel, and limited the work of the media.  Palestine called upon the international community to stop supporting the settlements, directly or indirectly, as settlement activities violated the rights of Palestinians.  The construction of the separation wall by Israel ran counter to the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said that the boycott of this agenda item by the United States and its European Union allies was evidence of their political hypocrisy and it helped Israel continue its violations.  The continued selectivity and double standards were indeed the root causes of the lack of credibility of the Human Rights Council.  Syria condemned the violations by Israel of Palestinian rights, including lynching, administrative detention of 7,000 individuals including children, building of the racist separation wall and expanding settlements.  Syria called upon the Council to condemn the mock trials of the Syrians in the Golan, and said that the Israeli occupation still gravelly limited the exercise of the basic human rights of the people in the Occupied Golan, and was still expanding the settlement activity in the area.  Israel’s support to terrorist separatists in the Golan was evidence that Israel was using the difficult situation in Syria to promote its goals.

The President of the Council noted that Israel was not present in the room to take the floor.

General Debate

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that Israel continued to violate international law and viewed itself as above the law.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on Israel to stop singling itself out and to stop singling out the Council.  The reality could not be turned on its head; Israel’s discourse about being a victim rather than an aggressor, a target of the Council rather than an attacker on the Council’s very core principles, was rejected. 

Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, condemned the boycotting of the agenda item on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and other occupied Arab territories.  The international community had to assume its legal and ethical responsibility and hold Israel to account.  The occupying authority continued to commit crimes in the occupied territories, namely killing of civilians, inciting settlers to violence, confiscating natural resources, and the appropriation of land.  The settlements policy violated the rights of Palestinians to self-determination.

Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, called for the keeping of the agenda item on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and other occupied Arab territories on the Council’s agenda.  Anyone who supported that boycott supported violations committed by Israel against Palestinians.  The occupying power had been flouting all international norms and customs, demolished houses and imposed racist policies and ethnic cleansing.  The Gulf Cooperation Council called on all to lift the blockade against the Gaza Strip. 

South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that throughout almost seven decades, the Israeli military occupation of Arab territories had taken a toll on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.  The international community was called on to rise up to its responsibilities and take urgent action to address the situation.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the Non-Aligned Movement’s longstanding solidarity with the Palestinian people, and reiterated its support for the realization of the independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  There was an urgent need for the international community to act decisively to sustain international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights and ensure Israel’s accountability. 

Nicaragua, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the Palestinian people deserved a life of dignity.  The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories remained of great concern, and the people remained in a dire situation due to the destruction of infrastructure, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, and many other factors.  The culture of impunity meant no recourse to justice was available to Palestinians.  Removing the agenda item under discussion from the agenda would mean allowing impunity.  

Maldives condemned the continuous, relentless and unjustifiable human rights violations committed by the occupying power in Palestine, and the cycle of fear, hatred and violence that had infested an entire generation in the Middle East.  There was a need to speak about Palestine in the hope that one day, a difference would be made, that a two State solution would be realized, with Palestine and Israel at peace, side by side as per the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital.

Qatar said that the recent statement by the Israeli Cabinet concerning the settlements in East Jerusalem showed its will to continue with its settlement policy and its rejection of peace.  Israel must realize that its continued actions against Al-Aqsa Mosque were a provocation to millions of Muslims and that the rights of the Palestinians would remain the priority for the Muslims of the world.  All perpetrators of violations must be held to account.

Ecuador reasserted Ecuador’s commitment to the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and categorically condemned the actions of Israel which undermined the two State solution, particularly the expansion of settlements, the human rights violations by colonisers and armed forces, and the destruction of houses and means of existence of the Palestinians.  Ecuador strongly condemned the practices that constituted grave human rights violations, including the use of torture, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip which represented collective punishment and was illegal.

Russian Federation expressed concern over the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  Russia called for the re-launch of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, interrupted in April 2014.  It expressed concern over the ongoing wave of violence, noting that the long lasting inability to resolve the issue was one of the sources of instability in the Middle East.  It opposed the evictions of the Palestinian population, settler policies and the blockade of the Gaza Strip. 

Saudi Arabia noted that the suffering of the Palestinian people had been one of the most longstanding tragedies.  It regretted the boycotting of this agenda item by certain Western countries.  Israel had been behaving as an abominable racist entity.  Saudi Arabia condemned the settler activities of the occupying power, and it called on the Council to put an end to the illegal blockade and occupation of the Palestinian territories. 

Cuba reaffirmed its support for the continued existence of this agenda item on the Council’s agenda and rejected the decision of some countries to not take part in these discussions.  Cuba highlighted the confiscation of Palestinian land, the existence of the wall and demographic changes, the demolition of houses, excavations and the imposition of arbitrary and racist restrictions on freedom of movement.

South Africa unequivocally condemned ongoing Israeli settlement activities, violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and many other actions.   It was imperative that the parties moved toward a two State solution with a viable Palestinian State existing alongside and in peace with Israel, within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders based on the 1967 border, and with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Algeria reaffirmed its unwavering support of the Palestinian people, and said that the present situation affirmed the catastrophic consequences of settlement activities.  The Human Rights Council had called for the establishment of a database of businesses involved in settlement activity.  The international community had also worked to respond to the just demands of the Palestinian people.

Venezuela condemned the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip, noting that the demolition of Palestinian property violated international humanitarian law.  Venezuela condemned Israel’s settlement activity, including in the Syrian Golan.  It was the international community’s responsibility to make Israel comply with its obligations enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 

Morocco reiterated Morocco’s commitment to keeping this agenda item on the Council’s agenda.  It drew attention to harmful and immoral practices by Israel, notably violations of international humanitarian law and principles of human rights, which would only stop if the international community put an end to them.  The humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories continued to deteriorate, and the Israeli authorities were hindering any attempt to achieve a fair solution to the dispute. 

China said that it would be impossible to have peace in the Middle East if this issue was marginalized.  China supported United Nations agencies in their efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, to reconstruct Gaza, and to proceed with peace talks.  China was willing to play a constructive role in finding a sustainable solution to the dispute.  

United Arab Emirates recalled the illegal practices of Israeli authorities.  In 2016 the occupying force drew plans to establish additional settlements in the West Bank.  Although colonization was illegitimate, nearly 17,000 Palestinian homes had been destroyed.  Israeli practices were contrary to international humanitarian law.

Nigeria remained deeply concerned about the on-going occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories by the occupying power. Nigeria reaffirmed its support to the historic struggle of the Palestinian people to realize their human rights and fundamental freedoms and to live in peace and justice, in line with the longstanding international consensus recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination with the State of Palestine living side by side with Israel.  Urgent action was needed on the United Nations resolutions on the status of the Israeli occupied Palestine and other Arab territories.

Indonesia said that the Palestinian people continued to experience suffering. Numerous United Nations resolutions had fallen on deaf ears.  The root cause of all problems in the Middle East stemmed from the situation in Palestine.  The Human Rights Council had to be more vocal in putting an end to the human rights violations in Palestine.  Indonesia had held an Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the situation in Palestine.  Peace could not be achieved at the expense of human rights.

Bolivia said the serious violations against international humanitarian law and human rights in Palestine were unacceptable.  This was a hallmark of neo-colonialism and reiterating this theme only continued the suffering. Palestinians were deprived of their right to self-determination.  Israel’s building of settlements and use of armed force continued unabated, as did arbitrary detention and mistreatment of prisoners.  The international community’s silence on Israel’s impunity contributed to this vicious cycle.

Bangladesh said that since its creation, Israel had engaged in a policy of forcibly displacing Palestinians.  More than 750,000 had been displaced, some of them internally, during the Nakba, the tragedy of 1948, when they had been forcibly uprooted and expelled from their homes and land, or fled in fear for their lives after the brutal massacres perpetrated by Israeli forces in an act of ethnic cleansing.  Since 1948, the Palestinian question had remained on the United Nations agenda without effective action to bring Israel in line with its international obligations.

Namibia said that the continual illegal, forceful and violent denial by Israel of the right to self-determination, full statehood and most human rights to the Palestinian nation was a tragedy and an utter disgrace, which must end.  Namibia condemned Israeli and transnational businesses directly or indirectly aiding the occupation and expansionism.  Israel must stop to blatantly violate international law and implement relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Pakistan said that the persistent refusal of the occupying power to cooperate with the human rights mechanisms must stop.  The expansion of settlements, the use of torture, the blockade, land expropriations and house demolitions, and administrative detention were crimes committed with impunity, which must stop.  The continuous violence of Israeli settlers against Palestinians was an issue of grave concern.  Israel must fulfil its international obligations.

Brazil was disturbed by the building of Israeli settlements, which was a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Likewise, collective punishment by demolishing Palestinian residences was inadmissible.  Reports and statements submitted to the Council brought the situation of the Palestinian people to the fore, but more had to be done in terms of their impact on the ground.

Turkey strongly supported the Palestinian people in their efforts to end the 49-year-long Israeli occupation.  Further expansion of settlements was destroying the possibility of a two State solution.  Since 2014 the situation in Gaza had worsened as reconstruction could not be done in an effective way.  Turkey would resolutely carry out and support all efforts for the settlement of the conflict.

Libya stated that the Palestinian people continued to be subjected to terrorism perpetrated by the Israeli entity, which exercised the worst kinds of violations of international humanitarian law.  Thousands of Palestinians had been displaced and many had fled, waiting to return.  Libya expressed hope that an end would be put to the occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories.

Senegal expressed deep concern over the situation of the Palestinian people, noting that the humanitarian deprivation was driving extremism in the region.  There was a need to take charge of humanitarian aspects and restore the Palestinian economy.  Settlements needed to be dismantled, and the blockade of Gaza needed to end.  Senegal reiterated its support for the Palestinian people and called for the vital re-launching of the peace process.

Malaysia said the Human Rights Council needed to address the injustice suffered by the Palestinians.  The world continued to witness the repressive policies and brutal and systematic attempts by Israel to break the spirit of the Palestinians.  The Council needed to highlight the plight of the Palestinians, as turning a blind eye to the situation risked the Council losing its credibility. 

Chile said that as affirmed by the Rome Statute, any war crimes should be investigated by the International Criminal Court, and added that it appealed to Israel to cease its expansionist activities, furthermore insisting that there should be an end to the blockade of Gaza.  As infrastructure was vital, Israel should apply protections of the Geneva Convention, and Chile advocated for a negotiated process.

Egypt said the challenges faced by Palestine under the Israeli occupation were increasing while Israel enjoyed impunity, and continued to conduct settlement activities and demolitions in an attempt to change the demographic and regional character of Palestine.  Israel’s occupation continued to violate civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  Egypt called on the Human Rights Council to compel Israel to implement international resolutions.  It looked forward to the operationalisation of the database on Israeli and international companies working on settlements in Palestine.

Kuwait said it believed that this agenda item must be discussed by the Human Rights Council in view of the enormity of the issue.  Kuwait called on Israel to respect international humanitarian law and human rights, and called upon the international community to work to immediately ensure the rights of the Palestinian people.  The credibility of the Human Rights Council was being undermined.  People all over the world were looking to the Human Rights Council as an effective tool that could preserve human rights in all countries.

Sudan said it was disappointed that some countries continued to boycott this agenda item.  Israel had been violating international humanitarian law and human rights for 70 years.  It kept killing and displacing Palestinian people and allowing settlers to kill Palestinians and take their property.  The Israeli Government kept Judaising the Grand Al Aqsa Mosque.  For nine years Israel had been imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip, forcing a collective punishment on 1.8 million Palestinians living in such a small strip.  Sudan called on the Human Rights Council to act to putting an end to the occupation by Israel.

Iraq noted the Palestinian cause towards establishing an independent State and said that there must be an end to the non-cooperation of Israel with the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Commission of Inquiry into the magnitude of the human rights violations against the people in Palestine.  The grave deterioration of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories due to the excessive use of power and the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip for more than nine years were cause of serious concern.

Iran was concerned about Israel’s blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law and about the enormous destruction of civilian property in Gaza, which constituted collective punishment.  Iran was also concerned about the systemic expansion of illegal settlements, the construction of the separation wall and the blockade of Gaza.  Iran condemned those heinous acts and the human rights violations in the occupied Syrian Golan by this “only democracy in the Middle East”.

Tunisia said that keeping this agenda item was the minimum that the international community could do.  The policies of Israel were deteriorating Palestinians’ enjoyment of rights and the occupying power considered itself above the law.  The international community must impose respect for international commitments and the Human Rights Council should ensure respect and protection of the Palestinian people until a fair solution was established. 

Bahrain said the item under discussion was a crucial element on the agenda of the Human Rights Council, and that the occupation that was seven decades long threatened to undermine the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to establish a State.  Settlements in the West Bank were not officially recognized, took away meaningful space and limited Palestinians’ mobility.

Lebanon reaffirmed the importance of keeping the item under discussion on the agenda of the Human Rights Council, and added that aggressive Israeli policies against Palestinians were all a form of gross violations of international law.  Lebanon, whose land was still under the occupation of Israel, called on all United Nations bodies to work on putting an end to all occupations.

Yemen said that arrests and torture underlined the necessity of keeping the agenda item on the table.  Israeli practices, including the occupation of the Syrian Golan, as well as ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, were flagrant violations of international law.  Yemen condemned measures to change the demographic structure of the Palestinian territories.

Jordan said violations of the Palestinian people were still ongoing. Occupation and human rights were two opposites that could not converge. Jordan called upon the international community to negotiate a permanent solution for the conflict in order to ensure a safe future for the Palestinian people and to stop the unilateral measures by Israel.  Jordan supported diplomatic efforts aimed at a two State solution.  Regarding Jerusalem and the sacred places, Jordan was committed to protecting Islam’s sacred places.

Nicaragua said the occupying power continued to ignore the resolutions of the Human Rights Council and other international bodies.  This undermined international humanitarian law and human rights.  The occupation of territories, destruction of infrastructure, arbitrary detention, continuation of settlements, among other violations, were a systematic attempt to make a people disappear.  This was genocide.  Nicaragua condemned the silence regarding Israel’s occupation of Arab territories and the impunity Israel enjoyed.

Oman reiterated the importance of keeping this agenda item on the agenda of the Human Rights Council.  This was vital to bringing the conflict to an end.  Flagrant and systematic violations by Israel, of international humanitarian law, human rights, and the Geneva Conventions was ongoing.  Palestinians who had suffered for a long time were still deprived of their rights.  Hostile policies in the form of practices that violated human rights and abusive practices such as administrative measures were undermining peace efforts.  It was vital that Israel withdrew from all Arab territories.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation was following with great concern the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories as 2016 had seen a sharp increase in Israeli human rights violations and violence against Palestinian people.  The miserable living conditions of the people living under the occupation were untenable; there were no coercive measures and policies that Israel had not used.  The paucity of international action to address those crimes was regrettable.

Palestinian Return Centre said that the Palestinian people continued to suffer the untenable situation of occupation and apartheid and that the measures that Israel had adopted to protect settlers and the settler violence were behind most violations of human rights in the West Bank.  In Gaza, the people continued to suffer indiscriminate attacks and were surviving merely because of humanitarian aid in this man-made disaster.

Defence for Children International called attention to the deteriorating situation of Palestinian children living under prolonged Israeli military occupation.  Children now represented 46 per cent of the almost five million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – this generation was growing with a future stifled by systemic discrimination, settlement expansions, and a prolonged military occupation, with no end in sight.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that human rights were inalienable for all humans, no matter which origin they had.  Palestinians had been deprived of their rights for seven decades.  Israel was trying to silence non-governmental organizations that were criticizing Israeli policies.  Israeli authorities had imposed restrictions on visits to prisons.  The international community should exercise pressure on Israel.

Arab Commission for Human Rights said that Israeli settlers continued their repression and there was also police violence.  Crimes against culture had been denounced in other places.  Illegal searches were shaking the foundations of the sacred Al Aqsa Mosque.  Until the dawn of an independent Palestinian State, the Council needed to keep the current agenda item on its agenda.  The strategy of normalizing wrongdoing was rejected.

World Jewish Congress said that the Human Rights Council should be guided by principles of non-selectivity, but the Council was not living up to its principles, with the current agenda item as the only one targeting one specific country.  The Special Procedures mandate holders that Israel refused to cooperate with were deeply rooted in fallacious attempts to target Israel.  The agenda item would never be justified and Israel should be considered under item four.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, in a joint statement with American Association of Jurists said life was becoming more and more difficult for Palestinians.  The collective punishment mitted out against the Palestinians in the occupied territories included violations of the right to health, freedom of movement, and earning a living, among others.  The Movement was deeply concerned about the boycott of this agenda item by a group of countries.  It drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the situation of a well-known Palestinian human rights defender, who had attended the Council several times and who was now in prison.

International Federation for Human Rights League said on 11 July 2016, the Israeli Knesset had approved the “NGO Transparency Law,” which required non-governmental organizations registered in Israel that received 50 per cent or more of their funding from foreign governments to report to a registrar and to mention such funding in all their official letters and publications.  The law targeted non-governmental organizations critical of government policy, in particular human rights organizations.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in a joint statement, said arbitrary detention was a common phenomenon in the West Bank.  Under the cover of administrative detention, Israel was holding large numbers of Palestinians in custody for extended periods of time, without an upper time limit, without trials, and without informing them or their lawyers of the charges against them, in an obvious misuse of the concept and a breach of international law.  The international community had a duty to put an end to the ongoing collective punishment of civilians.
 
Union of Arab Jurists said that Israeli occupying forces persisted in perpetuating the worst forms of violations against the Palestinian people and were supporting the terrorist organizations in the Occupied Syrian Golan with air cover, as admitted to the media by Israeli officials.  The attacks of the United States-led coalition on the Syrian army positions testified to the fact that they were supporting terrorism in order to destroy Syria.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in a joint statement with BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights; and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, reminded the Council that Palestinian human rights defenders pursuing accountability for grave crimes and working to end prolonged occupation had been facing serious attacks.  Since 2015, representatives of leading human rights organizations, particularly staff based in Europe, engaging with the International Criminal Court with regard to the preliminary examination of the situation in occupied Palestinian territories, had been subjected to death threats, intimidation and harassment.

Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Dorits de l’Homme said that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was identical to the apartheid in South Africa.  Israel continued to disregard United Nations resolutions, including those allowing the Palestinian people to return to their lands.  Israel was a rogue State and the international community must not bend under the pressure of Saudi Arabia and the United States.

International-Lawyers.org, in a joint statement, said that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories seemed to be getting worse.  The ongoing and widespread Israeli settlement activity was backed by an ideologically motivated military presence.  The international community had a shared responsibility to take appropriate measures to ensure the respect of the human dignity of the Palestinian people. 

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture asked how long the world would remain silent, and how long children would continue to be detained.  Children were deprived of school and the love of their mothers.  Their only recourse was to go on hunger strike.  Regarding the administrative detention of Palestinians, the international community needed to put an end to it, and Israel was called on to comply with international commitments.

United Nations Watch said that the Council had heard the opposite of the truth.  The Palestinian Authority refused to negotiate peace.  They incited the stabbing of innocent civilians.  Several countries were commended for choosing to defend the principle by protesting the agenda item and absenting themselves from the debate.  The truth was that what the Council had seen today was the opposite of defending the principles of human rights.

Association des étudiants tamouls de France said due to escalating violence over the past several years, the number of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention had spiked.  At the beginning of this year there were 440 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.  This was the highest number of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons at any given point since the Israeli Prison Service began releasing data in 2008.  The Association urged all members of the Human Rights Council to demand that Israeli authorities immediately stopped the use of administrative detention against Palestinian children. 

Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle said in the past eight months the actions of Israel’s Armed Forces had undermined the rights of Palestinian people, including their right to development.  Deportations had tripled over the past several years.  The international community was looking the other way. Formal complaints needed to be filed with international bodies.

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, in a joint statement with ADALAH - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said it had filed 107 complaints of war crimes in the State of Israel.  Israel had not looked into a single case.  This reflected Israel’s intention to shield violations of international humanitarian law by its military.  Al Mezan called on the Human Rights Council to ensure that the Israeli forces’ apparent violations of international law were subject to independent criminal investigations, with the aim of ensuring justice for victims according to the principles of international law.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel was deeply concerned by the failure of Israel to end the practice of racial segregation, discrimination and apartheid, and noted with concern the resignation of the Defense Minister and his statements about the dangerous drifting of Israel towards extremism.  The non-governmental organization strongly condemned the negotiations for a new long-term agreement on United States military aid for Israel totalling $ 35 to 40 billion which would escalate human rights violations by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Right of Reply

Chile, speaking in a right of reply, said that the President of Bolivia today had launched an attack on Chile in his address to the Council, on an issue that was a bilateral one.  His 30 minute diatribe was unprecedented in the Council, which was not an appropriate forum to discuss trade, transport of goods, and other issues the President had raised.  Chile had fully complied with the provisions of the 1904 Treaty and it was unfortunate that Bolivia had used the Council to vilify Chile and launch unfounded accusations.

Bolivia, speaking in a right of reply, reiterated that the right to free transit through Chile was a compensation to Bolivia for having thousands of kilometres of the coast violently taken from it.  It was a human rights issue as it involved discrimination and violence.  People were obliged to wait for several days in very cold weather to pass the Chilean customs and border, and there was a lack of adequate provisions of toilets, or security to Bolivian citizens – those were examples of human rights violations.

23      Chile, speaking in a second right of reply, said that Bolivia was insisting on bringing bilateral issues to international fora.  Bolivia’s version of history did not reflect the reality.  The present forum should know about a case involving the International Court of Justice, of which Chile was awaiting a ruling.  Chile was actively participating in all parts of the human rights system, and regretted that Bolivia was undermining the dignity of the Human Rights Council.

Bolivia, speaking in a second right of reply, said that a few years ago, since President Morales had spearheaded a campaign, trade violations had occurred.  There had been a public announcement from a mayor regarding racism.  Rights derived from compensation related to land-grabbing had led to the situation that Bolivian citizens were suffering from.  Bolivia would not stand down from its stance.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC16/145E