Statement by Ms. Saima Sayed, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations at the Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee 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 (November 1, 2016)

Mr. Chairman,

We align ourselves with the statement made by Venezuela 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/71/352). 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. The practice of meting out collective punishment, despite its obvious futility, continues.

Mr. Chairman,

The report of the Special Committee highlights the gravity of the situation in the occupied Arab territories which is being exacerbated by settlement expansion; exploitation of natural resources from settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and from the occupied Syrian Golan; administrative detention, including detention of children; excessive use of force and, in many cases, extrajudicial executions; the demolition of Palestinian homes and the forcible transfer of Bedouin and herder communities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The instability and exacerbating tensions are a threat to the viability of the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

Mr. Chairman,

New regulations for use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces are another grim example of the heavy-handed practices of the occupation forces. These new regulations are not consistent with the international laws that apply on the military of the occupying forces while dealing with civilians. Premises such as UNRWA installations and schools are also being targeted with tear gas, stun grenades and other ammunition that should remain inviolable as being designated United Nations sites.

The report mentions a huge surge in Palestinians detained on the basis of activities on social media. 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. These curbs on freedom of expression and opinion of Palestinian youth will only engender more violence and aggravate their sense of despondency.

Mr. Chairman,

The devastation of Gaza has further aggravated the suffering of the Palestinian people. The 9 year illegal blockade of Gaza is seriously hampering rebuilding efforts. With homes destroyed during the Gaza conflict in 2014, around 100,000 Palestinians remain displaced more than 2 year after the end of hostilities. Almost the entire population is dependent on aid to meet basic needs, as unemployment remains among the highest in the world. The situation has been compounded by repeated cycles of conflict that have led to heavy losses of life among civilians and psychological trauma, inflicted major damages to private and public infrastructure and severely undermined the provision of basic services. One is forced to think how long this blockade of Gaza can be sustained before Gaza may no longer be “liveable “for the local population

The restrictions, forced displacements and demolitions being carried out by Israeli security forces in West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is also amplifying the sense of despair and insecurity through the Palestinians.

Mr. Chairman,

We appreciate the Secretary General’s last visit to the region in July. 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. With increasing violence and tensions, the prospects of a two-state solution grow more distant.

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. The situation in Gaza has greatly enhanced UNRWA’s responsibilities. It is critical that promises made after the conflict are fulfilled expeditiously.

We assure UNRWA of Pakistan’s continued support.

I thank you.