Statement by Tahir Hussain Andrabi, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations, 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 , 8 November 2011

Madame Chairperson,

Pakistan delegation supports ‘the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories’.

We also thank the distinguished Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka for his insightful briefing as the Chairman of the ‘Special Committee’. Also in order is appreciation for members of the Field Mission of the ‘Special Committee’, for braving the challenges arising from a difficult mandate.

The Special Committee’s report is based on field visits and interviews with direct witnesses. We call for full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

The Report has documented the state of human rights of the Palestinians and other Arab peoples in the Occupied Territories. The situation is characterized by violation of the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination, freedom of movement, education, commerce and religion. The Special Committee has also detected alarmingly high level of impunity exercised by the Occupation Forces. The brunt of this impunity is especially felt by the vulnerable segments of the society like women, children and refugees. Ending the culture of impunity is important for building an environment of trust and confidence. No framework of meaningful Arab-Israeli negotiations can be sustained without such trust and confidence.

The Report has also elaborated on Israeli practices affecting the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Demolition of Palestinian homes, forced evictions and revocation of residency rights are some of the tactics used to change demographic features on ground. Such measures are closely linked to the ongoing settlement activity, which is a violation of international law and a serious provocation. Palestinian heritage is also being destroyed by changing status of age-old cemeteries, mosques and churches. We join the international community in calling upon the Israeli authorities to meet their international obligations and cease all settlement activity. We also call for complete lifting of the blockade in Gaza.

Madame Chairperson,

Denial of the Palestinian’s right to self-determination is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We agree with the Committee’s view that failure to realize this right compromises the possibility for the full respect for and protection and fulfillment of the rights of Palestinian people. The application of the UN membership for the state of Palestine is an expression of the inalienable right to self-determination. Pakistan supports Palestine in this endeavour. Only a strong state of Palestine, as a responsible member of the international community can guarantee peace for itself and for its neighbors.

For lasting peace in the Middle East, progress on Syria-Israel and Lebanon-Israel conflicts is necessary as well. Living conditions in the Occupied Syrian Golan have been affected by inequitable water distribution, discrimination against local workers and high rates of taxation. Such measures are in direct contravention of the Security Council resolution 497 (1981). Israel must withdraw completely from Lebanese land and the Syrian Golan --- in compliance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions.

I will conclude by reiterating our support for the Palestinian people in their just struggle for peace and right to self determination. Pakistan wants peace for all inhabitants of the Middle East, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or nationality.

I thank you.