Statement by Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the 67th UNGA Agenda Item-53 Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (November 12, 2012)

Madame Chair,

We align ourselves with the statement to be delivered by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Let me, at the outset, thank the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories for its report. We fully support the work of the Committee and call for implementation of the recommendations contained in its report. We also thank the Secretary General for his reports.

We feel that, chaired by His Excellency Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, and ably assisted by the Permanent Representative of Malaysia and the Permanent Representative of Senegal in Geneva, the Committee deserves credit for producing a detailed document, despite the difficult circumstances. The fact that the Committee was able to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory, only the second time since its establishment in 1968, speaks volumes about the dedication and hard work of the members of the Committee.

Madame Chair,

The situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the Syrian Golan remains abysmal. Israel, the occupying power, persists with its oppressive policies, with the most vulnerable groups, including children, being severely affected. The report states that 500-700 Palestinian children are detained by the occupation forces every year. These children are subjected to treatment that is not only in clear violation of all international human rights laws and practices dealing with minors, but also unethical and immoral.

The policy of administrative detentions and torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons continues. These detentions, used as a policy tool, and as an alternative to criminal proceedings, erodes the right of the detainees to a free and fair trial. By keeping them in prisons far away from their own areas, they also violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is condemnable that even the 14 May 2012 agreement between the Israeli authorities and the representatives of the Palestinian prisoners, that led to the end of their mass hunger strike, has not been fully implemented.

Madame Chair,

The Israeli settlement policy, coupled with demolition of Palestinian structures and their displacement and evictions continued during the reporting period, in flagrant violation of international law and opinion. This illegal practice is further shrinking the window for a solution based on two states. The report rightly notes that Israel's occupation seems "cost free" as the international community takes care of basic needs of the victims of these displacements. While we continue to watch from the sidelines, increasing incidents of settler and "price tag" attacks are making the occupied territories truly unlivable.

The blockade of Gaza entered its sixth year. This atrocious collective punishment is being meted out to its 1.6 million inhabitants. Palestinians living in the area have been deprived of their means of livelihood and sustenance, in clear disregard of Security Council Resolutions 1850 and 1860. We condemn these illegal practices and call for immediate end to the blockade. We also strongly urge the international community to take action in this regard. Ending the culture of impunity is important for building an environment of trust and confidence.

Madame Chair,

As the report states, the strategy of occupation forces seems clear; force the Palestinian people off their own land or marginalize them to maintain a system of permanent oppression. How could any political process be expected to resume in such circumstances? Any political settlement needs commitment from both sides, as well as good faith. In the absence of both these ingredients from one of the parties, things could only be expected to deteriorate.

A just, sustainable and equitable resolution of the Middle East conflict has to be based on an independent and viable State of Palestine. A long term solution could not be found without withdrawal of occupation forces from all Arab lands, including those of Lebanon and the Syrian Golan.

Pakistan has been a staunch supporter of the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian State, on the basis of pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital. We highly appreciate the progress made in this regard by the Palestinian Authority. We stand ready and committed to supporting the Palestinian Authorityís initiative to be accorded the "Observer State" status in the UN system.

Madame Chair,

Let me also take this opportunity to say a few words about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the near East (UNRWA). Despite the restrictions placed on its movement, and its difficult financial situation, UNRWA continues to perform an excellent job. Allow me to assure UNRWA of Pakistan's continued support.

Let me conclude by reiterating Pakistanís unrelenting support for the Palestinian people in their just struggle for peace and right to self determination.

I thank you.