Statement by Ms. Feda Abdelhady Nasser, First Secretary, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), Item 87: Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories 52nd Session, 25 November 1997:

Mr. Chairman,

This year marks thirty years since the occupation by Israel in 1967 of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. As such, agenda item 87, Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, continues to be of very high relevance to my delegation and, we hope, to the international community as well.

Allow me to begin by expressing my delegation’s appreciation to Ambassador Herman Leonard de Silva of Sri Lanka, Chairman of the Special Committee, as well as his colleagues on the Committee, Ambassador Absa Claude Diallo of Senegal and Ambassador Dato Abdul Majid Mohamed of Malaysia, for the efforts they have exerted in carrying out the responsibilities of the Committee, including the preparation of the thorough and valuable periodic reports before us.

Mr. Chairman,

Operative paragraph five of General Assembly resolution 51/131 of 13 December 1996 requests, inter alia, "the Special Committee, pending complete termination of the Israeli occupation, to continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, especially Israeli lack of compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949…" As indicated by the Committee, the reporting period witnessed a severe decline in the peace process and in the living conditions of the Palestinian people due to the policies and practices of the Israeli government. These policies violate the human rights of the Palestinian people, in violation of international law, international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and relevant United Nations resolutions. The situation in the past year deteriorated to such a critical plateau that, for the first time in fifteen years, the Assembly convened an emergency special session to consider illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The fervent resumption by the current Israeli government of the colonial settlement campaign, particularly the commencement of construction of a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of Occupied East Jerusalem, led to the convening of the tenth emergency special session following the failure of the Security Council to discharge its responsibilities in this regard. The ongoing illegal actions and practices by Israel, the occupying Power, as well as their downward spiraling consequences, have actually threatened the very existence of the peace process and threaten the stability of the region as a whole. The present situation is one characterized by increasing Palestinian despair, frustration, humiliation and suffering as a result of Israel's punitive, harsh and illegal policies and practices.

Mr. Chairman,

Israel’s illegal settlement activities, which include the construction of settlements, the confiscation of more Palestinian land, the exploitation and theft of natural resources, the transfer of more settlers into the occupied territory and the building of bypass roads, continue unabated. Further, the frequent belligerent and violent behavior of the illegal settlers has continued and remains a source of great tension and an endangerment to the lives of the Palestinian people, as proven by the situation in Al-Khalil (Hebron) despite the Israeli withdrawal from 80% of the city earlier this year. The government of Israel has also continued its campaign to judaize Occupied Arab East Jerusalem by making changes to its legal status, character and demographic composition and by abrogating the rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites to live in their city through the illegal confiscation of their identity cards.

The current Israeli government has also continued to strangle the Palestinian economy and to grossly exploit the Palestinian market through the imposition of sieges and closures and the restriction of the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and between the territory and the outside world. These illegal measures have obstructed any possibility for genuine economic development, causing severe deterioration in the living conditions of the Palestinian people. Not only do such collective measures violate the fundamental freedom of movement; they also consequently violate the freedom of worship and of education and have resulted in the suffocation of our people and the dismemberment of Palestinian territorial integrity.

As it has done for the past thirty years, Israel, the occupying Power, has also continued, and in many ways increased, its oppressive practices and measures in violation of the human rights of our people. As reported in detail by the Special Committee, several forms of collective punishment, aside from the closure, continued during the reporting period, including the demolition of homes, the imposition of curfews and collective administrative detentions. Harassment and physical ill treatment also persisted, as did kidnappings, killings and assassinations by the Israeli authorities. Palestinian political prisoners who remain in Israeli jails also continued to be subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment and human rights violations.

Mr. Chairman,

All of the above-mentioned Israeli practices are in blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which is applicable to all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. The Security Council has adopted twenty-five resolutions in which it affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. There is also clear international consensus in this regard. It is only Israel that rejects this, continuously violating the provisions of the Convention for the past three decades. We reiterate once more that it is imperative that the Israeli government accept the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In this regard, we stress the importance of fulfilling the recommendation made by the 10th emergency special session that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with common article 1.

Mr. Chairman,

We have brought this dangerous situation before the Security Council and the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly and we do the same before you today. Although it remains our strongest hope that the prevailing situation will soon change, there obviously cannot be a viable peace process while Israeli continues to violate international law, international humanitarian law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. Israel must choose and the international community must shoulder its responsibilities and take a clear position in this regard. Further, Israel must cease its policies and practices, which aim to destroy the agreements reached between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and comply with its contractual obligations under those agreements. These are the requirements for progress in the peace process and a serious and qualitative change in the living conditions and the situation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Mr. Chairman,

Again we express deep regret with regard to the refusal of the Israeli authorities to cooperate with the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Further, the dismal situation of the past year has reconfirmed our position that the Special Committee remains a necessity. The United Nations has a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it is solved in all its aspects, and thus, the Committee’s work continues to be of importance to the international community until the Israeli occupation is brought to an effective end. It is therefore our hope that all the resolutions under this agenda item will receive the necessary and deserved support. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.