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Commission on Human Rights takes up debate on situation in occupied Arab territories, including Palestine

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HR/CN/1010
Norwegian State Secretary for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Delivers Address

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 27 March (UN Information Service) - The Commission on Human Rights began consideration this afternoon of its agenda item on the "question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine", hearing from its Special Rapporteur on the topic and from several countries directly concerned.

John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Terriroties occupied by Israel since 1967, said the situation had worsened over the past year. Israel did not seriously contest its violation of human rights norms and international humanitarian law, Mr. Dugard told the Commission -- loss of life, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, restrictions of freedom of movement, the arbitrary destruction of property, among other things, were instead justified as self-defense and as legitimate anti-terrorism action. Israel's legitimate security concerns could not be denied, he said, but nonetheless it was very difficult to justify Israel's actions.

A Representative of Israel said the Special Rapporteur continued to view Israel’s security measures as taking place in a vacuum, without any recognition of the terrorism and security threats that necessitated them -- beyond the critical fact that Israel’s security measures in these areas were a reluctant response to a concerted wave of Palestinian terrorism emerging from civilian populated areas, the Special Rapporteur ignored an even more immediate cause of poverty and deprivation: the appalling and widespread corruption throughout the Palestinian Authority. For example, the Representative said, the European Union was now investigating whether by funding the current Palestinian regime it was supporting corruption and the financing of terrorism and incitement.

A Representative of Palestine said the Government of Israel and its occupying troops had killed over 2,200 Palestinians, one-third of them children, in the past two and a half years, a figure that increased with each passing day. The Israeli occupation forces had caused severe bodily harm to over 25,000 Palestinians, 8,000 of whom were suffering from permanent disabilities. The world had condemned Nazism in the past for perpetrating acts of killing and mass killing during the Second World War, which lasted nearly 6 years, the Representative charged; the world also condemned Zionist Israel for the same crimes it had been perpetrating against the Palestinian people not only for six years but for over 50 years now.

A Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, commenting on the situation in the occupied Golan, said when the Golan had been invaded by Israel, there had been about 250 villages and farms and 160,000 Syrian inhabitants. Now there were five remaining villages inhabited only by 25,000 Syrians. Israeli forces had destroyed all the other villages and farms and expelled the Syrian population and built more than 40 civil and military settlements, the Representative charged, and by these and other actions had rendered the life of the Syrian inhabitants intolerable.

The Commission also heard an address by Vidar Helgesen, State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who said among other things that the eyes of the world were on Iraq and on a population that had been suffering from human rights violations for a very long time. The civilian population always paid too high a price in any conflict, Mr. Helgesen said, and it was hoped that hostilities would come to an end as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Norway had already provided humanitarian assistance and stood ready to assist actively in the coming humanitarian challenges in an effort spearheaded by the United Nations.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Commission completed debate under its agenda item on the right to development, hearing statements from a series of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Speaking were representatives of International Institute for Peace; World Peace Council; Centre de Estudios Europeos; World Muslim Congress; International Indian Treaty Council; Centre Europe -- Tiers Monde; European Union of Public Relations; General Arab Women Federation; Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation; American Association of Jurists; Voluntary Action Network India; Movement against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples; December 12th International Secretariat; and Minority Rights International.

Contributing to the debate on the occupied Arab territories were Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference) and Bahrain.

Representatives of Israel and Palestine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Commission will meet in closed session at 10 a.m. Friday, 28 March, to consider questions of human rights violations under its "1503 procedure". It will reconvene in public session at 3 p.m. to continue debate on the situation in the occupied Arab territories.

Statement from the Podium

VIDAR HELGESEN, State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that at a time when human beings were faced with much uncertainty, fear and insecurity, one must not lose sight of the progress made during the fifty-six year existence of the Commission. Today, many more people than ever before lived in countries where there was democracy and respect for human rights. Democratic regimes had increased from 44 to 82 since 1985. The Commission of Human Rights had played significant role in these achievements, thanks to its systematic work to promote and protect human rights. It was important to translate words of support into concrete action and to make sure that sufficient funds were allocated to the human rights machinery and to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Respect for human rights and the rule of law was central to the security and prosperity of individuals and States alike. There could be no security and no peace for States if individuals were not secure and at peace. Human rights and the rule of law were the only solid foundations on which one could build a better and more secure society. The eyes of the world were today on Iraq and a population that had been suffering from human rights violations for a very long time. The civilian population always paid too high a price in any conflict and he hoped, Mr. Helgesen said, that hostilities would come to an end as soon as possible. Norway had already provided humanitarian assistance, and it stood ready to assist actively in the coming humanitarian challenges in an effort spearheaded by the United Nations. The last days had demonstrated the importance of full respect for international humanitarian law and for the Geneva Conventions. Respecting international humanitarian law was ultimately in the self-interest of all parties to conflict.

In recent years, the international community had witnessed rapid developments in the field of international criminal justice, Mr. Helgesen said. International criminal tribunals had already been established for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The establishment of the International Criminal Court had rightly been described as a milestone and its recent inauguration was a moment of great importance for the international community. Today, perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity could not be safe anywhere. It should be stressed that even the fight against terrorism must take place within the boundaries of international law, in particular international human rights law. The right to life was the most fundamental of all human rights. Norway was strongly opposed to the use of the death penalty and believed there was no justification for this repugnant practice. Norway would work towards its abolition and urged those States that had not yet abolished the death penalty to do so. The use of capital punishment against child offenders and offenders with mental disorders was an issue of the most serious concern.

Statements on the Right to Development

G. M. MAHASAR, of International Institute for Peace, said that for more than half of its existence, Pakistan had been governed by non-political regimes affiliated with a Punjab based civil and military bureaucracy. This had concentrated agricultural and industrial wealth in the hands of a tiny ruling elite. A primary reason for the skewed development of the country was that over 80 per cent of Pakistani funds were diverted into defense and debt servicing. The long-standing feud between Pakistan and India over the disputed Kashmir territory had kept defense spending disproportionately high B and had pushed the sub-continent into the nuclear arms race. A fall-out was that little money was left for health, education and social services.

The absence of proper planning in agriculture B accompanied by little industrial growth -- had contributed to widespread unemployment in Sindh. This had fuelled a state of despair among Sindhi youth, contributing to widespread human rights violations and increasing suicidal tendencies in rural areas. The Government was no longer able to impose law and order in the villages, and had left them to be ruled by customary law. The United Nations was called upon to encourage the Pakistani leadership to democratize the nation, end discrimination on the basis of religion and strengthen the rule of law. While Pakistan supposedly had returned to democracy in October 2002, power was still not in the hands of the elected representatives. International bodies must take heed that the common people of Sindh were being robbed of their natural resources and of their right to development.

SHABIR CHOUDHRY, of World Peace Council, said that according to international law and resolutions of the UN, the State of Jammu and Kashmir was disputed. Pakistani authorities had constructed a dam, known as a Mangla dam, inside the Kashmiri territory in 1967, causing displacement and misery for thousands of people. The construction was against international law and local Kashmiri law which did not allow any foreigner to own any land in the Kashmiri territory. Pakistani authorities completely ignored protests and demands by the local people and forced them out of their houses.

Those who refused to leave had their houses bulldozed and were literally kicked out and dumped in remote places in Pakistan. To rub salt in their wounds, Pakistani authorities had not given any royalties for the dam to the government of Azar Kashmir on the grounds that this area was not legally part of Pakistan.

LAZARO MORA SECADE, of Centro de Estudios Europeos, said acceptance of the right to development as a fundamental human right of individuals and peoples had been settled by the consensus agreement of the Vienna World Conference of 1993. At that time, no one imagined that the acceptance of the right would implicate the developed national and the transnational enterprises, which were pursuing neo-liberal concepts.

As indicated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the right to development, the implementation of the right to development had met with difficulties. Its implementation required the formulation of plans of action at the national level with regard to the promotion of economic, social, cultural and political rights. However, the burden of external debt of the developing countries had continued to weigh heavily on their capacity to fully realize the right to development. The structural programmes imposed by the International Monetary Fund also continued to negatively affect access to the rights to education, health, employment and social security of millions of families.

MAQBOOL AHMAD, of World Muslim Congress, said the wealth gap between the developed and non-developed parts of humanity continued to grow at an alarming rate, and poverty was rapidly increasing. Over the past decade, poor nations had become poorer and rich nations had become richer. The net flow of wealth was from the poor to the rich and today the number of UN-classified least-developed countries was almost the double that of 30 years ago. Many of the 190 nation States were poor and marginalized and found themselves helpless against hurdles that blocked all opportunity to exit from poverty. Everything under the sun seemed to have been tried and the poverty and gross distortion in the distribution of wealth worldwide continued to grow. Poor countries were unable to pay back monumental debts and were often obliged to incur new debt to pay the interest and amortization on their previous debts.

Financial liberalization and free capital movement, unregulated foreign investment, unrestricted competition, a reduced government role in economic affairs, structural adjustment programmes which included reduction of public expenditure, privatization of public enterprises and drastically reduced customs tariffs had led in the developing countries to climbing unemployment, rises in the prices of essential commodities, recession, increases in the population below the poverty line, loss of control over national wealth and domination by multinational corporations, which led to political corruption. Globalization and unfettered capitalism did not promote the interests of poorer nations.

KEE WATCHMAN, of the International Indian Treaty Council, said he was a traditional Dineh (Navajo) from Big Mountain, Arizona, in the United States. His people were still holding on very strongly to their sacred land, their sacred water and the herbs used for their medicine. Today, his people only had a small piece of land. If the traditional Dineh were removed from their holy ancestral homeland, they could not practice their religion and their way of life would end. Today, the energy company Peabody Western Coal Company as well as the United States Government and its Bureau of Indian Affairs were looking to extend three decades of strip-mining to include this area. His people had already had a big problem with their ground water since Peabody Western Coal Company had been pumping out their aquifer for over 30 years to slurry the coal over 287 miles away to Nevada and Page, where it made the electricity to light up big cities far from Navajo lands.

The Commission was asked to help protect this very last piece of Dineh land and the sacred water under the principle of international human rights, religious freedom and right to development, which were supposed to be for all peoples. The Commission was asked to do more research and to take strong action on these concerns.

MALIK OZDEN, of Centre Europe -- Tiers Monde, said that by resolution 1989/72, the Commission had requested the Independent Expert on the right to development to carry out "a study on the state of progress of the implementation of the right to development". The Expert should, through his studies, show the political measures States and the international community were taking in the direction of the concrete recognition of the right to development. Instead the Expert attempted to redefine the right to development, and proposed a convention for the right to development. He did not precede to a profound analysis of the impact of the policies of the international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. The definition given by the Expert of the right to development was not accepted by the Working Group, which was attached to the concept contained in the Declaration of the Right to Development.

A convention on the right to development, if drafted, might not be different than existing mechanisms. The Expert, meanwhile, was suggesting international cooperation and voluntary contributions of funds without revealing the mechanism under which such contributions would be collected.

MOHAMMAD MUMTAZ KHAN, of European Union of Public Relations, said the Islamabad rulers continued to violate the right to development of the people of Azar Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Over the past 55 years, the entire area of Azad Kashmir and Gigit Baltistan had been kept backward and was being used to facilitate the Jihadi’s military activities against Indian-held Kashmir. In Pakistan-held Azar Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, modern scientific educational institutions did not exist while traditional educational curricula and institutions had been replaced with a pro-Jihadi curriculum in order to indoctrinate the youth with the Jihadi extremist philosophy.

The Pakistan-held parts of the region were virtually a military base camp where extremists had sanctuary to run any kind of business from Jihad to the gun culture. Opposition to Jihadi schools and ideology was interpreted as anti-Islam and anti-State and many secular nationalists were subsequently prosecuted under sedition charges.

EMAN AHMED KHAMMAS, of General Arab Women Federation, said that for eight days Iraq had been the victim of unauthorized British and American attacks. The 2 million Iraqis killed since 1991 by the Americans had clearly not been enough, and the United States had continued to bomb a country without international support or authorization. This had consequences for the rights to life, education, and health of the people of Iraq.

Speaking of the right to development, that seemed like a luxury when Iraq's people were being massacred and going through a crisis in all areas of their lives. These bombings had left health infrastructures in a catastrophic state. There was contamination of water and there were food shortages. The number of deaths of children in Iraq had increased significantly, children born pre-maturely had increased, women suffering from anaemia had increased, and the general population suffering from cancer had increased. There should be an end to this aggression, an end of the bombing campaign and the immediate lifting of the genocidal economic sanctions imposed against Iraq.

KHALID JAHANGIR, of Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation, said the realization of the right to development was crucially dependent on specific social and political conditions. One United Nations resolution of 1995 had rightly underlined the continuing relationship between democracy, development and human rights. The resolution equally emphasized the importance of creating a favourable environment allowing every individual to enjoy human rights.

In this connection, the phenomenon of international terrorism had emerged as a new threat to the realization of the right to development. Apart from wreaking havoc on economic development in society, the violent environment generated by terrorism made the right to development its first casualty. By way of illustration, there was Jammu and Kashmir in India, which had been the victim of foreign sponsored militancy and extremism for the last twelve years and had suffered development losses worth millions of rupees. The resolution 2002/69 of the Commission on Human Rights had recognized that poverty eradication was one of the critical elements in the promotion and realization of the right to development. However, this dream could be realized only when societies were free from terrorist violence. A peaceful environment held the key to the realization of the right to development.

JAIRO SANCHEZ, of American Association of Jurists, said the idea of equity must be translated into more equitable distribution of income among States and individuals through various measures including the cancellation or substantial reduction of the external debt of heavily indebted poor countries, the payment of fair prices for raw materials and products of the least industrialized countries, and the implementation of policies aimed at full employment and at ending the erosion of the assets of small savers and pension holders by speculative financial capital. A key issue that was not dealt with in the meetings of the Working Group and reports before the Commission was that of an economy in permanent crisis that made the realization of the right to development impossible.

Those with decision-making power at the international level had opted for a war economy -- that is, trade in arms and the logic of destruction and reconstruction. While bombs were falling on the Iraqi people, the division of the booty of the reconstruction and the so-called humanitarian aid was shamelessly discussed. The choice of a war economy was made by paranoid politicians and unscrupulous representatives of the interests of the most bellicose sectors of the economy: the military and the oil industry.

P.M. PAUL, of Voluntary Action Network India, said the international community had a special responsibility in the face of the continuation of an unequal and unevenly developed global order. The developed countries paid lip service to their commitment to the reduction and eradication of poverty, and on the other hand framed rules and standards such that the poor countries were deprived of benefits in the area of international trade. For every dollar of aid they gave, developed countries took back twice that much through stiff trade barriers. Rich countries continued to hugely subsidize their own agriculture while pressuring the poor countries not to do the same. The resultant dumping in the world markets then decimated the livelihoods of small and poor farmers.

The Commission was called upon to support and strengthen processes and provisions to make the right to development a reality; to act to reduce inequalities in opportunity; to reform the manipulated rules of world trade towards ending the pervasive social injustices that the rules encouraged; and to encourage processes of globalization to work for the majority rather than for a favoured minority.

ROLLANDA BORRELLY, of Movement Against Racism and For Friendship among Peoples, said that despite the limited time given to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Commission, the Movement greatly deplored the manner in which the debate on the right to development was taking place. The NGOs were not able to obtain information on the report of the last session of the Working Group nor had they got the report in time.

Turing to direct foreign investment, such investment was described as a vital means of financing development -- a resource to create employment, eradicate poverty and to fill the technological gap between the developed and developing countries. All had been done by the developing counties to attract foreign investment. However, it was difficult to show that the benefit it brought was more than the cost it incurred. Paragraph 20 of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had affirmed that direct foreign investment could have all sorts of undesirable consequences.

VIOLA PLUMMER, of December 12th Movement International Secretariat, said that with the arrival of Europeans on its continent, Africa, birthplace of many of humankind’s greatest civilizations, began its slide into underdevelopment. The decimation of the Continent’s human power by the transAtlantic slave trade was followed by the coup de grace of colonialism.

The attack on Africans brought to America by the slave trade was planned, deliberate, brutal and continuous. The formal end of chattel slavery did not lead to recognition of African-Americans’ right to development, however. There could be no serious discussion of the right to development without a plan to provide restitution and reparations for those whose people, labour and resources had been stolen. In a post-cold-war world, where capitalism and imperialism - whether disguised as the free market or globalization - were the only games in town, the right to development was now tied to those international monetary institutions controlled by developed countries which had been unable to resolve the growing disparities of wealth within their own countries.

MARGOT SALOMON, of Minority Rights Group International, said that without the full integration of the standards in place to secure the right of minorities and indigenous peoples to development, development was unlikely to meet the needs of these marginalized groups. Without the integration of their rights, they were unlikely to benefit from development, including in ways that were meaningful to them, and that raised the possibility that development would in fact harm them. A conclusion reached in a Minority Rights Group International study on indigenous peoples and poverty in Latin America was that due to their political marginalization, indigenous peoples were largely absent from the planning, design and implementation of development policies and programmes that directly affected their lives and territories.

Minority Rights Group called on the Commission to ensure the reinsertion of a paragraph referring to indigenous peoples in the resolution on the right to development. The inclusion of this language would contribute to the much-needed consideration by a range of actors as to how to give the right to development meaning for minorities and indigenous peoples, including within the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

ARJUN SENGUPTA, Independent Expert on the right to development, said the future work of the Working Group on the right to development would reflect the majority of the opinions expressed in the Commission. It was true that that the concerns expressed by several NGOs must be addressed when adopting a framework on the operationalization of the right to development. A consensus also must be reached on a follow-up mechanism on the right to development with a view to studying States’ efforts to implement the right to development and the obstacles they faced. Similarly, discussion should be held on the impact of policies of international institutions on the realization of the right to development. The Commission should also consider setting up a standing committee, or alternatively, move towards the creation of a treaty body that was based on a convention where the obligations of the different parties would be clearly defined.

BONAVENTURE M. BOWA, Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the right to development, said he had listened to the views of the delegations and he recognized that there were differences on some issues. At the same time, it was not difficult to identify areas of broad consensus. It was now necessary to start with the areas of consensus to find practical means of realizing the right to development. It was clear that there was a need to give direction to the work of the Independent Expert in areas related to the proposal of the development compact as well as on the impact of international financial policies on the realization of the right to development. He reiterated his recommendation to extend the mandate of the Working Group for one more year.

Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine

Under this agenda item, the Commission has before it a series of documents.

There is a report of the Secretary-General on the question of the violation of human rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine (document E/CN.4/2003/27). The report states that in accordance with a request of the Commission, the Secretary-General had brought a resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine, to the attention of the Government of Israel and all other Governments, as well as the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The resolution had also been transmitted to all the specialized agencies and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. No reply from Israel had been received at the time of the preparation of the present report.

There is a report of the Secretary-General on human rights in the Occupied Golan (document E/CN.4/2003/28) which states that the Secretary-General had brought a resolution on the same topic to the attention of all Governments, as well as to the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The report states that the Department of Public Information had undertaken the following activities: the revised and updated publication of the report; The Question of Palestine and the United Nations;, including extensive references to the reports of the Special Committee and including sections dealing with questions of human rights, settlement and refugees; the reports of the Committee were extensively covered by the Department in its daily new coverage; electronic copies of the reports of the Special Committee are made available to the public by the Department’s Public Inquiries Unit upon request and to delegations by the Dag Hammarskjold Library.

There is a note by the Secretary-General (document E/CN.4/2003/29) which explains that the Commission had requested the Secretary-General to provide it with all United Nations reports on issues between sessions of the Commission that deal with the conditions in which the citizens of the Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories are living under the Israeli occupation. In the report, the Secretary-General accordingly draws the attention of the Commission to the relevant United Nations reports.

There is report of the Special Rapporteur, John Dugard, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (document E/CN.4/2003/30). The report states that in the past year the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) deteriorated substantially from the perspective of human rights. In large measure this was the result of repeated military operations carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the West Bank and Gaza. The IDF has justified its actions as self-defence anti-terrorism measures. That Israel has legitimate security concerns cannot be denied, the report notes. On the other hand, there must be some limits to the extent to which human rights may be violated in the name of anti-terrorism. The principal balancing factor -- proportionality -- is the main focus of this report. Children have probably suffered most from the present conflict, the report states. Both Palestinian and Israeli children have been exposed to threats to personal safety, while Palestinian children have, in addition, felt the breakdown of family life, health care and education. The report concludes that it is difficult to characterize the Israeli response to Palestinian violence as proportional when it has resulted in an excessive use of force that disregards the distinction between civilians and combatants, a humanitarian crisis that threatens the livelihood of a whole people, the killing and inhuman treatment of children, the widespread destruction of property, and territorial expansion.

Document E/CN.4/2003/130 , also listed under this agenda item, is not yet available.

Statements on the Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine

JOHN DUGARD, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Terriroties occupied by Israel since 1967, said the situation had deteriorated radically during the past year. The violations of both human rights and international humanitarian law were frequent, regular, substantial and effectively unchallenged. Consequently, the credibility of the legal orders designed to promote human rights and to ensure respect for international humanitarian law were threatened. If the international institutions established to protect human rights in time of peace and armed conflict could not respond more positively and effectively to the crisis in the Territory, the major advances of the past 50 years in those fields would be seriously undermined.

Mr. Dugard said over 3,000 lives had been lost in violence since the start of the Second Intifida in September 2000: over 2,300 Palestinians and 700 Israelis had been killed. More than 25,000 Palestinians and 5,000 Israelis had been injured. The Israeli military operations, dubbed "Defensive Shield" and "Determined Path" in the first part of 2002, followed by subsequent operations, had created a grave humanitarian crisis. The heavy bombing of the cities of Jenin and Nablus, followed by curfews in the major Palestinian cities and towns, aggravated by restrictions of movement caused by several hundred military checkpoints and roadblocks, had destroyed the foundations of Palestinian economic and social life. Poverty, based on a test of US$ 2 or less consumption per day, stood at over 60 per cent.

Mr. Dugard said destruction of property had been a regular feature of Israeli policy towards Palestine for many years. The number of arrests and detention had risen dramatically. Over 5,000 Palestinians at present were in custody. Children had probably suffered most from the present conflict. Both Palestinian and Israeli children had been exposed to threats to their personal safety. Israeli territorial expansion continued either by means of an increase in settlers and settlements or by means of the "apartheid wall" which would place an estimated 10 per cent of Palestinian land within Israel.

Israel did not seriously contest its violation of human rights norms and international humanitarian law, Mr. Dugard said. Loss of life, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, restrictions of freedom of movement, the arbitrary destruction of property, among other things, were instead justified as self-defense and as legitimate anti-terrorism action. Israeli legitimate security concerns could not be denied; however, it was very difficult to justify Israel's actions.

YAAKOV LEVY (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said that though this latest report demonstrated the beginnings of an understanding of the unlawful and unjustifiable nature of terrorism, and the right that States had to take measures against it, this insight remained purely on the abstract level. In practice, the Special Rapporteur continued to view Israel’s security measures as taking place in a vacuum, without any recognition of the terrorism and security threats that necessitated them. While there was not an argument about the gravity of the humanitarian situation in the territories, the Special Rapporteur’s insistence that this was purely a result of Israeli actions was inexplicable. Beyond the critical fact that Israel’s security measures in these areas did not take place in a vacuum, but were a reluctant response to a concerted wave of Palestinian terrorism emerging from civilian populated areas, the Special Rapporteur ignored an even more immediate cause of poverty and deprivation: the appalling and widespread corruption throughout the Palestinian Authority.

The Special Rapporteur did not address the acute dilemma that faced the international donor community and which was now being investigated by the European Union B whether by funding the current Palestinian regime it was supporting corruption and the financing of terrorism and incitement. While the Special Rapporteur did mention that over one hundred Israeli children had been killed, his focus was on the suffering of Palestinian children. He ignored the calculated use of Palestinian children by terrorist organizations in perpetrating violence, including active recruitment and involvement of children in the conflict, both as combatants and as human shields. Nor did he mention the incitement and virulent propaganda with which Palestinian children were indoctrinated through schoolbooks, children’s television, and summer camps that set out to prepare them for martyrdom. The results of such indoctrination had been painfully clear.

It was not military operations that had led to arrests, it was terrorist actions, suicide bombings in which hundreds of Israelis were indiscriminately killed and thousands wounded, that had led to Israel counter-terrorism measures, including arrests and detentions. The Special Rapporteur painted a picture of random and arbitrary interruptions to the functioning of health and humanitarian services, without any reference whatsoever to the use of ambulances and humanitarian vehicles by terrorist organizations for smuggling both ammunition and terrorists themselves in blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of conduct in armed conflict. The terrorists had showed no qualms about hiding ammunition in ambulances, dressing as pregnant women and aid workers, and using children both as fighters and as their front line of defence. It was stressed that an effective fight against terrorism could not be conducted without risk. Israel reiterated its previous calls to the Commission to reconsider and revise this mandate, calls that had been supported by several Special Rapporteurs.

NABIL RAMLAWI (Palestine) said that once again the Commission was examining this issue, regretfully, without the least optimism that this would bring about any improvement in the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967. The Israeli military occupation was also meant to provide, through the practices of the military forces of occupation, the atmosphere and essential factors necessary for all forms of flagrant violations of human rights in the occupied territories. It was interesting to note that the violations of human rights in the region were so comprehensive, various and continued to the extent that they had covered all aspects of everyday life in Palestinian society, be it humanitarian, economic, social, educational, agricultural or political. Flagrant violations included the crime of willful killing of Palestinians, the infliction of severe corporal and moral harm, deliberately exposing Palestinian civilians to harsh living conditions, military sieges imposed on all Palestinian towns, villages and camps, exposing them to unbearable starvation, denying them access to food and medicine, exposing them for a long period to this day to collective punishments and various other war crimes defined as such in international humanitarian law.

The Government of Israel and its occupying troops had killed over 2,200 Palestinians, one-third of them children in the past two and a half years, a figure that increased with each passing day. The Israeli occupation forces had caused severe bodily harm to over 25,000 Palestinians, 8,000 of whom were suffering from permanent disabilities. The Israeli occupation authorities had detained about 15,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention camps without trial, exposing them to various forms of torture during interrogation. The Israeli occupation authorities had destroyed over 30,000 homes, stores, factories and other Palestinian property. Other collective punishments included military sieges and curfews imposed on Palestinian towns, villages and camps, hindering the inhabitants’ liberty of movement and isolating the already dismembered Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from the rest of the world.

The world had condemned old Nazism in the past for perpetrating acts of killing and mass killing during the Second World War, which lasted nearly 6 years. The world also condemned Zionist Israel for the same crimes it had been perpetrating against the Palestinian people not only for six years but for over 50 years now, starting with the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948 in Palestine, not to forget massacres which had taken place in Qibieh, al-Sammoua, Sabra, Shatila, Jenin, Gaza, Jabalia, Khan Yunis and many locations elsewhere. The world could eliminate old Nazism, but had not yet eliminated New Zionist Nazism.

TOUFIK SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking as a concerned country, said Israel had occupied the lands in question in 1967 and even today it had not implemented a single resolution or decision of any United Nations body, including Security Council resolutions. The Syrian Golan, an area of 1,000 square kilometres, was one of the richest in water resources in Syria. When the Golan had been invaded by Israel, there had been about 250 villages and farms and 160,000 Syrian inhabitants. Nowadays, there were only five remaining villages inhabited only by 25,000 Syrians. Why? The reason was that the occupying Israeli forces had destroyed all the other villages and farms as well as expelled the Syrian population and built more than 40 civil and military settlements, summer and winter resorts, ski stations and even air bases. Israel’s attempts to impose its nationality on the inhabitants of the Golan constituted an attempt to annex it and impose a de facto situation on the international community, which still refused this annexation and considered it null and void.

While these actions were rendering the life of the Syrian inhabitants intolerable, the long line of Israeli rulers had encouraged settlement operations by providing different facilities to settlers, turning their settlements into modern oases, despite Security Council resolutions 446,452, 465, and 471. The Commission was referred to the report of the Special Committee in charge of investigating Israeli actions. It was noteworthy that Israel had refused to receive this Committee and to cooperate with it since it was established. Concerning the health situation, it was stressed the occupying forces had taken measures leading to great harm for the environment in the Golan due to the burying of toxic wastes, the destruction of religious places, and the stealing of properties and archaeological sites. The dangerous breaches undertaken by the occupying power had turned the lives of the inhabitants of the Golan into an unbearable hell.

It was time for the United States, which continued to encourage and support Israel, to stop overlooking Israeli policies and to take maximum actions as an honest and non-biased broker to allow for a just and comprehensive peace in the region. The occupation in itself was a violation of human rights and had led to other violations. Thus, ending these human rights violations required ending the occupation. It was high time for the international community to unite in imposing respect for human rights, in imposing on Israel sanctions according to the Charter, until Israel withdrew according to United Nations resolutions and the principle of "land for peace", an unconditional withdrawal from all the Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and until Israel respected the decisions of the Commission as well as fully implementing them.

Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur

A Representative of Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union had difficulties in implementing humanitarian assistance programmes in occupied Palestine. What would be the possibility of access to the Israeli-occupied territories?

A Representative of Switzerland said the report did not indicate whether the Special Rapporteur had met with Israeli authorities; what would be the possibility of bringing the authorities into a dialogue with the Rapporteur?

A Representative of the United States asked if the Rapporteur, by omission, meant that Hamas and Islamic Jihad should not be condemned, and if zero tolerance should not be observed in the event of terrorist acts.

A Representative of Syria asked if there existed cooperation between the Special Rapporteur and the Rapporteur who was carrying out studies on Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A Representative of Palestine said the Special Rapporteur had the mandate to study the implementation of the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war; and the mandate of the Rapporteur was to study the situation in the Israeli-occupied territory and not that of Israel, which was not occupied by any Arab State.

A Representative of Algeria said his delegation condemned the acts of deliberate destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and the killing of Palestinian politicians by Israeli forces.

Reacting, Special Rapporteur Dugard said there should be a balance between the actions of Palestinians and the responses of Israel. It was difficult to justify the Israeli action of depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights as a response to security concerns. The European Union and other donor countries and organizations had been faced with difficulties in accessing Gaza and Western Bank because of the blockade exercised by the Israel forces.

Mr. Dugard said he had been denied access to Government officials in Israel, although he had spoken to non-governmental organizations. Among other things, he would have been happy to discuss matters with Israeli Justice officials about the situation of Palestinian children.

Mr. Dugard said the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements should be condemned for their acts of terror. There should also be zero tolerance shown for terrorism committed by non-state actors.

The Representative of Palestine thanked the Special Rapporteur. However, his mandate would not end if there was a peace process or not. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur would end when the occupation ended. Concerning terrorism, the Unites States had spoken of Palestinian terrorism. However, far worse was the State terrorism of the Israeli Government. The United States was advised to add Israel to its roster of terrorists in the world.

Further Statements on the Situation in the Occupied Arab Territories

SHAUKAT UMER (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation, establishment of a Palestinian State with Al-Quds as its capital, return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland, restoration of dignity and security of Palestinian life and rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure and property were among the fundamental objectives of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands was acquiring ever more sinister forms. Israeli atrocities against innocent civilians had risen sharply since the last session of the Commission. Israeli gunships, combat helicopters and tanks fired missiles and heavy artillery against civilian targets without any fear of accountability. Since September 2000, over 2,000 Palestinian civilians had been killed and more than 21,000 seriously injured or wounded. Palestinian homes, agricultural lands and orchards had been destroyed. The refugee camps had been besieged and the legitimate Palestinian Authority virtually incarcerated. Israeli settlements continued to be used for attacks against neighbouring communities.

There had been shortages of basic food stuffs, interference with medical services by the denial of access to doctors and hospitals, interruption of family contacts and stoppages of education. Military operations had led to widespread arrests and detentions. Israeli territorial expansion had accelerated in the past year as a result of the seizure of Palestinian land to build a security wall and for the continued growth of settlements. Israel had been using excessive force that disregarded the distinction between civilians and combatants. Ordinary Palestinians today were completely isolated and marginalized and the international community and its mechanisms had failed to provide them with protection from Israeli terror and repression.

SAEED MOHAMED AL-FAIHANI(Bahrain) said the situation in the Arab occupied territories had not improved since last year. In fact, the situation had deteriorated from a human rights perspective. Unfortunately, predictions of the situation over the remaining months of the year seemed to be negative, and many believed that the situation would deteriorate further unless serous negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis were resumed. The report of the Special Rapporteur was clear in depicting the situation of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. He had stated clearly that the human rights situation there had deteriorated substantially. The Israeli justification for their practices included "self-defence and anti-terrorism measures" but the Special Rapporteur had answered these justifications by asking for limits on the extent to which human rights might be violated in the name of anti-terrorism.

The suffering of the Palestinian people was immense in all aspects of life. The Israeli incursions inside Palestinian Authority lands and towns had left physical, political, economic and social devastation. The Palestinians had suffered greatly from the Israeli occupation forces, who had imposed curfews in major Palestinian cities and who were using checkpoints that obstructed travel between towns and villages. The suffering had increased further due to the use of inhuman treatment, unlawful detentions and the destruction of property. Bahrain was sure that if the rights of Palestinians were respected and a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East was achieved, it would lead to stability and security and the end to a cycle of conflict and violence, bringing in its place a cycle of fruitful cooperation.

Rights of Reply

A Representative of Israel, speaking in right of reply, said that ever since its establishment as a democratic State, Israel had consistently been committed to upholding human rights and the rule of law. Despite continuous threats to its very existence, raging terrorism, and an ongoing state of emergency, Israel had never claimed that its security dilemmas constituted an exceptional circumstance that justified the use of unlawful means. Israel society had always been self-critical, pluralistic and open, with transparent public discourse and a democratic legacy, whose independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court had been in the forefront of safeguarding human rights, and whose Chief Justice had been internationally recognized and praised for playing that role. Israel was no less concerned about human rights than those who criticized her.

A Representative of Palestine, speaking in right of reply, said the Representative of Israel said that bells of alarm must have been rung when Palestine equated Zionism with Nazism. He also said that Israel promoted human rights. The bells of alarms had rung already in 1948, when Israel was established. The region had never seen a war before the 1948 war, but since then the region had been ravaged by war. The war waged by the US and the UK against Iraq today was because of Israel and would be followed by a remapping of the region in accordance with the interests of Israel and in order for Israel to remain stronger than any Arab country in the region. When Israel was established, it was established on Nazi ideology and its practices were even worse than those used by Nazism. Israel was using all forms of killings and torture which were worse than the practices of Nazism.