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Israel calls report of Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices in Occupied Territories 'biased and anachronistic', in Fourth Committee

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GA/SPD/417

Sixty-third General Assembly
Fourth Committee
23rd Meeting (AM)

Says Despite Lopsided Picture Painted in Debate, Past Year Seen Most Meaningful Israeli - Palestinian Talks Since 2000; Nine Related Draft Resolutions Introduced

The report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories presented a "biased and anachronistic picture" of the region, Israel's representative told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) as it concluded its general debate on that issue.

Israel's delegate said that by acknowledging the rights of only one side, the Special Committee's work was utterly divorced from reality. Further, the Fourth Committee's three-day debate had been filled with "futile rhetoric" that had no bearing on the well-being of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, or on the advancement of peace.

Furthermore, "It is absurd that in this body, such bastions of human rights and democracy, including Sudan, North Korea, Iran and Syria lecture the open and free State of Israel," he asserted, calling on Israel's critics to take real, constructive measures to assist and support the Israeli and Palestinian peoples in their attempt to end their bloody, decades-long conflict.

That support might include shoring up the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) with more than just words, creating confidence-building measures towards Israel, embracing both Israeli and Palestinian narratives and addressing the concerns of all sides.

Despite the lopsided picture painted in the current debate, he emphasized that the past year had witnessed the most substantial and meaningful negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians since 2000. Indeed, both sides would, in a matter of days, brief the Quartet ( United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, European Union) on the status of their direct peace negotiations launched in Annapolis last December. He was encouraged by his Palestinian colleague's statement that the Palestinian people and their leadership were fully committed to the peace process. Israel also believed that a bilateral peace process was the only way to communicate both sides' concerns and aspirations.

In the brief conclusion, this morning, to the three-day debate, the handful of speakers underlined the value of the Special Committee's work. Contradicting Israel's assessment of that body's report, Libya's representative said it had been based on reliable information that had been further bolstered by non-governmental and humanitarian organizations. She expressed hope that the occupying Power would allow investigators to visit the Occupied Territory, and strongly supported the recommendations of the report that those visits be allowed.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said -- as many speakers had over the course of the Fourth Committee's debate -- that Israeli occupation had greatly increased the suffering of the Palestinian people, making them more desperate. Four years after the International Court of Justice had issued its advisory opinion on the separation wall, Israel continued to build that illegal wall on the pretext of security and peace. Yet, security did not come by building symbols of occupation; the respect of human rights and the rule of law guaranteed Israel's stability, and Israel should abide by and implement the relevant Security Council resolutions on the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Uganda's representative called on Israel to take immediate action to facilitate the movement of Palestinian peoples and goods, provide access to international humanitarian organizations into the territories, remove outposts, and reverse the settlement policy and activity and end land confiscations. He also called for renewed intensification of efforts by the international community, including the Quartet, to support the Annapolis process negotiations between the two sides and the full implementation of the Road Map towards ending the occupation of the Palestinian Territory.

Following the general debate, the representative of Cuba introduced five draft resolutions on the work of the Special Committee. Indonesia's representative tabled four draft texts on UNRWA.

Speaking in exercise of the right to reply were the representatives of Syria, Sudan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and Libya, as well as the observer for Palestine.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 7 November, to take action on all remaining draft resolutions.