Cablegate: Israeli Practices in the West Bank, Gaza and Golan

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1. SUMMARY: The UN General Assembly's Fourth Committee met
November 9 - 10 to debate the annual "Report of the Special
Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the
Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the
Occupied Territories" (aka the Special Committee). The
debate included statements from 27 countries (primarily Arab
League and Organization of the Islamic Conference members) in
addition to the chair of the Special Committee and the
Palestinian Observer Mission. Most condemned Israel's
"occupation," military offensives against Gaza and Lebanon,
the construction of the separation barrier and settlements,
and "collective punishment" imposed by Israel against
Palestinians. Many also praised the findings of the
Goldstone Report. Israel deemed the report biased, and stated
that such reports do not do anything advance the peace
process. Sweden, on behalf of the EU, reiterated a
commitment to the peace process. Several countries
criticized the UN secretariat for the late issuance of the

Report of the Special Committee

2. Chairperson of the Special Committee, Palitha T. B. Kohona
of Sri Lanka, stated that that the committee examined the
issue of human rights in the occupied territories by holding
meetings in Cairo, Amman, and Damascus and found that the
human rights situation continues to deteriorate. It cited as
examples during the Israeli military operation in Gaza the
use of white phosphorus munitions and the "targeting" of
UNRWA facilities. Kohona said report emphasizes the
"dramatic humanitarian impact of the populations living in
the Gaza Strip." The report alleged that Israel did not
allow the Special Committee access to "the occupied
territories" which Israel controls.

General Debate
3. The Palestinian Observer Mission brought activists from
the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolition and
Palestinians from East Jerusalem who had recently been
evicted by the Israeli army to observe the committee. The
Palestinians accused Israel of "a brutal military aggression
against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza
Strip, resulting in serious human rights violations and grave
breaches of international humanitarian law - war crimes," as
concluded in the Goldstone Report. Restrictions on movement,
expansion of settlements and the checkpoints that restrict
the movement of persons and into and out of the West Bank
were all cited as ongoing infringement of Palestinian rights.
The Palestinian Observer Mission called for the establishment
of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

4. Israel noted the biased nature of the report, stating that
it was "part of a well-calculated and systematic political
campaign designed to vilify Israel and the right of Israel's
citizens to live in peace and security". Israel stated that
the report failed to include any mention of the rockets fired
on Israeli towns and villages since 2001 or the military
build-up of Hamas via Iran's shipping of arms to Gaza.
Israel reiterated its commitment to protecting human rights
and to reaching a permanent peace agreement to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will permit both peoples to
live in peace, security and dignity.

5. Syria stated that the report, "for the fortieth
consecutive year," drew attention to Israel's deliberate and
systematic destruction of the legal character of the
'occupied Syrian Golan.' Syria said that Israel destroyed
Syrian villages, seized Syrian properties, plundered natural
wealth, diverted water, imposed exorbitant taxes, refused to
declare where mines are buried and is burying nuclear waste
in the area. Syria said Israel takes these actions "in a
culture of impunity "and acts "above the law".

6. Iran stated that the highest priority of the UN should be
ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, and
reversing the declining humanitarian and human rights
situation and grave violations of Palestinian rights. It
accused the Israelis of a "massacre of Gaza," citing the
targeting of civilian populations, the use of white
phosphorus munitions and the blockade on imports of
humanitarian goods. Iran said that the Goldstone report
reaffirmed the findings of the Special Committee and that
durable peace in the region is only possible through the
establishment of Palestinian state.

7. Lebanon noted the ability of the Israeli army to act with

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impunity in the occupied territories and called for a "just
and lasting resolution of the Middle East conflict based on
relevant Security Council resolutions." Lebanon condemned
the "blockade" of Gaza and called for an opening of all
border crossings.

8. Other Arab states: The Arab states were uniform in their
call for an end to the occupation of the Palestinian
territories and in saying that Israel commits human rights
violations. Many cited the Goldstone Report as supporting
the results of the Special Committee's report. Qatar
rejected the Israeli position that it is fighting terrorism,
noting that most of the casualties were unarmed civilians.
Qatar also reiterated that "the right to fight for liberation
from foreign occupation is legitimate...and cannot be equated
with military aggression by the occupation forces." Jordan
noted that the situation in the occupied territories had
become a "tragedy" with the ongoing blockades, calling the
Gaza strip "a huge prison." Egypt, speaking on behalf of the
NAM, said it "will continue to support the Palestinian people
in order to bring an end to Israel's unlawful occupation that
began in 1967, to apply justice and to fight impunity." The
other Arab League members who spoke during the debate were
Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, the United
Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

9. OIC members: Senegal called on Israel to end the blockade
of the occupied territories and warned that this blockade
could cause an "unprecedented humanitarian disaster".
Malaysia said that a lack of territorial contiguity between
parts of the occupied Palestinian Territory, expansion of
settlements, demolitions of Palestinian houses, obstacles to
movement, lack of access to employment, health care and
education, and Israeli detention policies are among the
issues that the Special Committee should monitor. Pakistan
noted "a serious deterioration of the human rights
situation." Pakistan said that the impact of Israel's
policies is felt on the ground in terms of lives and
livelihoods, and has a negative impact on the peace process.
Sudan and Bangladesh also delivered remarks.

10. Sweden, on behalf of the EU, restated a commitment to a
comprehensive peace settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict
on the basis of international law and a two-state solution.
The EU is concerned by settlement activities, home demolition
and evictions, including in East Jerusalem. The EU "remains
gravely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza" and
called for the immediate and unconditional opening of
crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid.

11. African views: Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa all
called for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian
territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
South Africa noted the report and called for an end to
Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people including
the blockade, settlement building, and demolition of
Palestinian houses. Tanzania called on Israel to stop the
construction of the separation barrier and to end the
blockade of Gaza.

12. Other views: Cuba called for an end to the Israeli
occupation of Palestinian territories and noted the
increasing number of poor people in the Gaza Strip due to
Israeli blockades and aggression. Venezuela stated that
Israeli impunity is the "main obstacle for peace." Both
noted that Israel is able to continue its practices due to
the U.S. veto or threat of veto in the Security Council.
DPRK called for an end to Israeli aggression and the
establishment of a Palestinian state.

13. Right of Reply: At the end of the general debate Syria
stated that Israel's claim that it protects human rights is
"nonsense" and that the Goldstone report shows the world the
war crimes that Israel committed. Syria questioned why
Israel did not allow the Special Committee access to the
occupied territories. It further stated that the rockets
launched against Israel were a reaction to the illegal
occupation. The Palestinians stated that Israel does not
allow its Arab citizens or Palestinian refugees human and
political rights and noted that the settlers "get away with
murder because the victims are Arabs" and that Israel
continues to act with impunity. The Palestinians stated their
intent to continue coming to the UN for redress of issues for
the Palestinian people.

© Scoop Media

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