Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, on Agenda Item-55: Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (12 November 2015)

Mr. Chairman,

We align ourselves with the statement made by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

We thank the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories for its report (A/70/406). We support the work of the Committee and call for full implementation of its recommendations.

Despite challenges and restrictions, the Committee, Chaired by Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka must be commended for producing the report.

We also thank the Secretary General for his reports.

Mr. Chairman,

Israel continues with its policy of non-cooperation with the Special Committee. It persists in refusing access to international bodies for investigation and verification of the situation on ground.

Innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children, continue to suffer brutal repression. Restrictions on Palestinian freedom and rights, harassment by Israeli settlers, terror and provocation in and around the holy sites, including the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and bleak prospects for a negotiated and comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to compound the plight of the Palestinian people.

It is alarming that incidents of violence are on the rise. A third and more intense intifada is being forecast.

The devastation of Gaza has exacerbated the suffering of the Palestinian people. The eight-year illegal blockade of Gaza is seriously hampering rebuilding efforts. With homes destroyed during the Gaza conflict last summer, around 100,000 Palestinians remain displaced more than a year after the end of hostilities.

The practice of meting out collective punishment, despite its obvious futility, continues.

Mr. Chairman,

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised concern over the high number of casualties, especially those resulting from the use of live ammunition by the occupation forces. Limitations on use of force placed by international law apply where a military occupying power operates in civilian areas.

The tragic case of Abdel Rahman, a 13-year-old ninth grader at an UNRWA school - shot dead by Israeli Forces on 5 October - is a grim but just the latest example of the heavy-handed practices of the occupation forces. Initial UNRWA investigation indicates that he was with a group of friends and hardly posed a threat.

New discriminatory legislation enacted by Israeli lawmakers targeting Palestinian minors imposes a mandatory minimum penalty of four-year imprisonment for stone throwing. In addition, arrests of parents, family members of political activists and of youth on charges of incitement on Facebook have further deepened the sense of fear amongst the Palestinian people.

Such mental and physical persecution of Palestinian youth will only engender more violence and aggravate their sense of despondency.

Mr. Chairman,

We appreciate the Secretary General’s recent visit to the region. We fully support his views that the only way to end violence is through real and visible progress towards a political solution, including an end to occupation and establishment of a Palestinian state. It is disconcerting to hear the assessment from Washington this week that its prospects remain bleak. Whose fault is this? How can we address this? And will the Security Council continue to remain mute?

We believe that durable peace can only be achieved through political solutions, not through heavy-handed tactics and use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians.

We cannot continue to ignore the long struggle for self determination of the Palestinians.

A just, sustainable and equitable resolution of the Middle East conflict is only possible through an independent, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

A long-term solution would also require the withdrawal of occupation forces from all Arab lands, including from Lebanon and the Syrian Golan Heights.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me also appreciate the excellent work that UNRWA continues to undertake for Palestinian refugees. For it to perform its critical tasks, UNRWA’s urgent financial needs must be urgently met.

Last year’s violence in Gaza has greatly enhanced UNRWA’s responsibilities. It is critical that promises made after the conflict last year are fulfilled expeditiously.

We assure UNRWA of Pakistan’s continued support.

I thank you.