Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

Statement in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee on 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. 4 November 2008.

  1. Pakistan fully supports and commends the important work of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. I would like to thank the Chairman of the Special Committee for presenting its report, which describes the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the Occupied Syrian Golan. The reportís findings and recommendations merit serious consideration and support by this Committee.
  2. The continuing plight of the Palestinian people and the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation, as reported by the Special Committee, corroborates scores of other reports by the UN and other independent international bodies which have documented somber accounts of the circumstances prevailing in the Occupied Territories. The ruthless denial and suppression of fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people reveal the true face of the occupation, to which the entire international community has been a witness for long.
  3. And for decades the international community has collectively called on Israel, the occupying power, to halt its illegal practices and policies which are responsible for this grave situation in the Occupied Territories. Unfortunately, Israel continues to defy these calls with impunity. The consequences are disastrous, both for the situation on ground which is becoming increasingly dire and unbearable by the day, and for the peace process, in which the international community has invested so much.
  4. Mr. Chairman, the hope for lasting peace generated by the Annapolis Conference last year needed to be nurtured and strengthened. It required immediate and credible confidence building measures to create an environment conducive for good faith and result oriented negotiations. Regrettably, this has not happened. Israelís incessant actions involving use of force, human rights violations, discrimination, social and economic strangulation and collective punishment of the Palestinian people have severely undermined the prospects of peace.
  5. Confidence cannot be built in the face of repeated Israeli military attacks and incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, resulting in considerable loss of innocent life and injuries including among women and children, and widespread damage to property and infrastructure. Serious concerns remain over the continuing extra-judicial killings, abductions and disappearances, arbitrary and illegal detention, and torture and inhumane treatment of detainees in Israeli prisons. Killing of all civilians is unacceptable. We call upon all sides to shun violence and respect their respective obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the 4th Geneva Convention.
  6. We are deeply concerned that the construction of the illegal separation wall and its grave consequences continue in defiance of the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice. The settlement activity has increased, in contravention of the road map, the commitments made in Annapolis, and Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. Bypass roads have continued to expand and restrictions on the right to freedom of movement have further intensified, severely affecting the enjoyment of virtually all human rights of the Palestinian population, and further fragmenting the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip has turned it into a big prison inflicting collective punishment on the besieged population, half of which constitutes children, while 80% of that population lives under the poverty line and is dependent on food aid.
  7. Israeli policies and practices in fact trigger a whole range of human rights violations and hardships for the people of the Occupied Territories. These include denial of right to life, liberty, property, freedom of movement, adequate standard of living, work, education, health, as well as depriving the Palestinian people of their scarce water resources. The damages resulting from these and other aspects of occupation must be compensated justly in accordance with the principles of international law.
  8. Mr. Chairman, a fundamental human right, whose denial and violation is at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. We agree with the Special Committee that the failure to realize this right will compromise the possibility for full respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of the Palestinian people.
  9. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people in the Al-Nakba. It is a stark reminder to the international community to live up to its moral, legal and political obligation towards a just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, and bringing an end to the untold misery and suffering of the Palestinian people.
  10. Resolution of the Palestine issue is the key to a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, which must also include parallel progress in addressing the Syria-Israel and Lebanon-Israel conflicts. This is the shared objective of the international community. To realize this objective, it is essential to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of all the Arab territories, which is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. A durable solution, we believe, cannot be imposed by force or unilateral actions. It can only be achieved through dialogue and negotiations in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions and the norms of international law.
  11. Pakistan has a natural and strong affiliation with the issue of Palestine and a deep commitment to its just and peaceful settlement. The framework for such a solution already exists - in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the principle of land for peace, the Madrid Peace Conference terms of reference, the Quartet's road map and the Arab Peace Initiative. The Annapolis process also flows from this framework. The promise of Annapolis, a peace treaty to be realized by the end of 2008, is unfortunately fading. It is incumbent upon the international community to reinvigorate efforts to revive that promise. We cannot afford another failure.
  12. This debate should therefore signal strong support for the peace efforts. This is also an occasion to reiterate our commitment for the establishment of an independent, sovereign and viable state of Palestine with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Pakistan will fully back the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle for self-determination and the quest for peace and freedom. Thank you.