Right of Peoples to Self-Determination

Statement by Ms. Nadya Rasheed, First Counsellor, before the Third Committee, Agenda item 68: Right of Peoples to Self-Determination,

68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 5 November 2013

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The right to self-determination is enshrined in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Article 1 of those two Covenants also obliges States parties, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, to promote the realization of the right to self-determination and to respect it, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Even though, the ICCPR and ICESCR are part of the universally recognized International Bill of Human Rights, these Covenants along with all aspects of international law and humanitarian law, which are all applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, have been deliberately ignored for more than four decades by Israel, the occupying Power. To take it a step further and to be more factual, not only have they been ignored by the occupying Power, but they have been violated, trampled on and violently withheld from the Palestinian people under its occupation.

Mr. Chairman,

The most obvious manifestation in which the Palestinian people’s basic and fundamental right to self-determination has continued to be denied is as result of Israel’s continuation of its illegal polices and measures of creating new facts on the ground, with its building of settlements and related infrastructure in Occupied Palestine.  This illegal policy is an obvious and clear attempt by the occupying Power to strengthen its subjugation and strangulation of the Palestinian people and to entrench its illegal occupation.

In fact, in its report to the twenty-second session of the Human Rights Council, the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, concluded among other things that the establishment of the settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevented the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State.  It also concluded, that in addition to the right of self-determination, the existence of the settlements has had a heavy toll on many other rights that are being violated on a daily basis.  These rights include, but are not limited to, the freedom of movement, equality, due process, fair trial, right to not be arbitrarily detained, liberty and security of person, freedom of expression, freedom to access places of worship, education, non-discrimination, water, housing, adequate standard of living, property, access to natural resources and effective remedy.

Unfortunately, despite this latest report and despite the fact that the international community is united in its view that Israel’s settlement enterprise is illegal and that it poses a major obstacle to the realization peace, Israel continues to carry out its colonial expansionist measures unabated.  It also continues to do so in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, relevant provisions of customary law, and even though such polices amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the of the International Criminal Court.  In addition to this, the occupying Power, continues with this unlawful policy despite the fact that peace talks have been resumed and our underway. In this regard, we refer to a report by the Israeli NGO Peace Now, which exposed, among other things, a 70% rise in the construction in settlements in the first half of this year.  This percentage does not include the latest announcement just made last week of an additional 1,031 settlement units to be built in the West Bank and 828 in East Jerusalem. It goes without saying, that such actions are clearly inconsistent with Israeli political rhetoric supporting negotiations to establish a viable, independent, contiguous, and sovereign Palestinian State.

Mr. Chairman,

With the illegal settlements comes the transfer of illegal setters, which now amount to more than 520,000 settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  Settler colonialism, like any other form of colonialism, is rooted in racism and racial discrimination for it negates the most basic rights of the indigenous people, their national rights and even their very existence. Settlements are established for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews and are being maintained and developed through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in Occupied Palestine and to the detriment of the rights of the Palestinian population. Moreover, as a consequence of the occupying Power’s policy of turning a blind eye to settler violence and in some instances even actually encouraging settlers, acts of settler violence against Palestinians, their property and agricultural land has continued to rise.

Mr. Chairman,

It goes without saying that Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, must cease. Colonization, expansionism and annexation are entirely incompatible with ending occupation and making peace. Speaking of peace, while engaging in its destruction, makes a mockery of the international community’s support for the two-State solution and diminishes the viability of two-States, and obstructs a real peace agreement from materializing.

The adoption of 67/19 of 29 November 2012, in which the General Assembly accorded Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations was a historic decision indeed for the Palestinian people and a reflection of the strong support for the inalienable rights and legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and a life of freedom and dignity in their independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.  But what we need now is for serious, practical measures to be undertaken by the international community to compel Israel to halt its illegal settlement activities and all other related unlawful policies in Occupied Palestine to truthfully usher in a new era of peace and security for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.