14 October 2014- Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Senior Adviser, before the Third Committee: Advancement of women

At the outset, allow me to begin by congratulating you upon your election as Chair of this important Committee. We are confident that you will bring the work of the Committee to a successful conclusion. We also extend our congratulations to all the members of the Bureau.

Madame Chair,

In the upcoming year of 2015 the international community will commemorate two major events related to the advancement and empowerment of women.  These two major events namely, the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, which was adopted in 1995 as well as the 15th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325,which was adopted in 2000. Nearly two decades later, the international community can confidently list many examples in which significant achievements have been made in connection with the full equality and development of women. At the same time, it would also be true to state that women in all parts of the world still face many constraints and obstacles that continue to hinder their efforts towards the full implementation of the strategic objectives of the outcomes contained in these documents. We hope the convening of these significant events will mark a new era in which gender equality become a reality and women will overcome all difficulties and challenges they face in their struggle to achieve their full advancement and empowerment.

Madame Chair,

Such constraints and obstacles are even more formidable in the case of Palestinian women who have been living for far too long under the most unbearable and tragic situation as a result of the continued Israeli military occupation and its oppressive policies and practices against the Palestinian people. The deterioration of the situation in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, has significantly affected Palestinian women in the most detrimental way. The intensification of the construction of illegal Israeli settlements and its apartheid Wall, home demolitions, the imposition of severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods and the collective punishment and gross violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to life, continue to have devastating ramifications on not only the advancement and empowerment of Palestinian women and their families, but for their basic well-being and survival.

Allow me to turn your attention to the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip- a situation that is both catastrophic and a human tragedy. The impact of the recent Israeli criminal aggression on the Palestinian civilian population living in Gaza, in particular women and children was beyond horrific.  During the more than 50 days of its barbaric aggression, Israeli occupying forces slaughtered and wounded thousands of Palestinians. To be more exact, the occupying Power killed at least 2,150 Palestinians, among them more than 577 children and 261 women.  Sadly, the number continues to rise as many continue to succumb to their wounds sustained during Israeli attacks.  One must also add to this tragedy the over 11,000 injured as during these attacks, many of them were severe injuries. The occupying Power also caused massive destruction throughout Gaza, completely decimating entire neighborhoods, resulting in more than 100,000 Palestinians who have lost their homes.  Moreover, thousands of structures, including UNRWA schools, were damaged or completely destroyed by Israeli bombardment. And, today, while children returned to school, at least 65,000 Palestinians are still living in these schools who were forced to flee to escape bombardments which destroyed approximately 20,000 homes. In this regard, the international community should use all necessary measures to compel Israel to lift its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza, open all border crossings and remove all restrictions on the movement of persons and goods to and from Gaza immediately.

Furthermore, Israel, the occupying Power, should not be granted immunity for committing such actions mentioned above which constitute not just grave breaches of the 4th Geneva Convention, but also gross violations of the core human rights instruments, including, inter alia, the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC), on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – all of which the State of Palestine has proudly become a signatory to and is fully committed to respecting and upholding, yet which Israel violates with total impunity with severe consequences for the Palestinian people.

Madame Chair,

This harsh and painful reality that I have depicted briefly about in this statement, had not only been an impediment to the Palestinian women’s efforts in implementing their national strategic plans and programs geared towards their empowerment and enhancement, but also the international instruments and norms relating to women issues.

Yet, despite this long history of subjugation, discrimination and violence by Israel, the occupying Power, Palestinian women have demonstrated resilience and steadfastness in their struggle for national and social liberation. They are exerting tremendous efforts at all levels to implement the National Plan of Action, programs and projects which target the policies and laws related to the rights of women and the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against them.

At this point, we like to emphasize the fact that the Israeli military occupation remains the major obstacle to the realization of Palestinian women’s full equality, advancement and empowerment. Therefore, we call for exerted efforts to be made by the international community to address this unjust and unsustainable situation in accordance with obligations and responsibilities under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law. Moreover, it is beyond imperative that the international community, mainly the United Nations, exert more efforts to compel Israel to end its over 47-year military occupation and hold the occupying Power accountable for its violations and crimes committed against Palestinian people, particularly women and their families and provide them with international protection until the termination of occupation and until the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Thank you Madame Chair.