Statement by Ms. Nadya Rasheed, First Counsellor, before the Third Committee, 70th session, on Agenda Item 72(c): Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, 4 November 2015

At the outset, allow me on behalf of the Palestinian people to express our appreciation for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Mr. Makarim Wibisono.  It is deplorable that after a year of his appointment and despite Israeli assurances when the SR was appointed, that he has been obstructed, from fully carrying out his mandate.  Israel must be reminded that such cooperation is a fundamental legal obligation incident to membership in the organization. Such non-cooperation by Israel should not be allowed to continue and we call for the necessary action to be taken by the UN to remedy this grievous situation and bring Israel into compliance.

Mr. Chair,

There is a human rights crisis in Palestine. Every aspect of life is being infringed upon and every human right is being violated as Israel, the occupying Power, continues to subjugate the Palestinian people and to entrench its occupation, in total contempt of international law and the global consensus on a peaceful settlement.  It is an occupation, in which its forces who are armed with deadly weapons and its armed terrorist settlers, intentionally commits the killing and injury of children, women, men and elderly persons; an occupation that commits extrajudicial executions; an occupation that steals and colonizes of another people’s land, for the purpose of  building illegal settlements and an illegal wall; it is an occupation that  destroys homes and properties, leaving thousands homeless and displaced; it is an occupation that imprisons and detains over 6,000 Palestinians, including children, and subjects them to all forms of physical and psychological abuse, including torture; it is an occupation that desecrates holy sites, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem as we are witnessing today; an occupation that  exploits the Palestinian people’s natural resources; an occupation that segregates, isolates and obstructs the movement of Palestinians by countless measures, including an annexation, apartheid Wall, a permit regime, hundreds of checkpoints and Israeli-only roads; and an occupation that  systematically collectively punishes  the entire Palestinian civilian population. Indeed, it is an occupation that repeatedly proves its racist, aggressive, expansionist agenda and total lack of respect for and denial of Palestinian rights, impacting every facet of Palestinian life.

Israel’s total lack of respect and denial of Palestinian rights and its blatant violations of international law are evident today as Israeli occupying forces and extremist settlers and settler militias have unleashed a wave of aggression, provocation and incitement against the Palestinian civilian population. Since the start of October, more than 73 Palestinians have been killed, many killed by extrajudicial execution, including more than 10 children.  More than 2,200 Palestinians have been injured, many severely due to Israel’s use of live ammunition against an unarmed, defenseless civilian population. Hundreds more Palestinians have been detained and arrested. Homes are being demolished in blatant acts of reprisal and collective punishment, leaving entire families homeless.  All of this leads us to conclude that Israel is more interested in consolidating its control over the Palestinian land, rather than achieving a just peace and security.

In evaluating the situation before us today, one thing is certain- the Palestinian people will continue to suffer from Israel’s brutality until its occupation is brought to an end.  But until then, we will continue to insist that they, the defenseless Palestinian civilian population, are entitled to protection under international humanitarian law.  The Palestinian people cannot remain the exception to the responsibility to protect civilians from atrocities and flagrant breaches of the law for they are not just statistics but human beings whose lives are being constantly shattered by a brutal occupier that proves over and over again its total disregard for the lives and rights of the Palestinian people and total contempt for international law.  We will not cease calling, and working, for the protection of our people, accountability for all the Israeli war crimes perpetrated against them, and justice for the victims.

As we speak of the absolute need for protection or rather the absence of protection, we sadly recall the horror and devastation inflicted by the occupying Power on the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014  where the occupying forces killed 2,251 Palestinians, among them more than 550 children and 299 women, and injured another 11,231 Palestinian children, women and men; caused massive forced displacement; inflicted wanton destruction to homes, schools, hospitals and vital civilian infrastructure; and terrorized and traumatized the entire population.

In addition to the intense human insecurity caused by Israel’s war against Gaza in 2014, is the despair and destitution being endured by Palestinians due to the humanitarian disaster deliberately inflicted by Israel via its illegal, inhumane eight-year blockade of Gaza.  As noted in the SR’s report, he states that  It is now clear that the blockade is a primary factor holding Gaza fast in its current humanitarian crisis, with many people displaced in 2014 still without homes to return to, electrical power cuts of 12-16 hours daily, more than 90 per cent of the water unfit for human consumption, an estimated 80 per cent of its people receiving aid and a 39 per cent poverty rate. Israel holds the master key to relieving the situation by lifting the blockade.” Moreover, as recognized unanimously by the international community, this unjust situation and the consequent loss of hope are totally unsustainable and highly volatile, requiring urgent remedy to stem further deterioration and desperation and avert the explosion of another deadly, destructive cycle of violence.

Mr. Chair,

Despite the gravity of this situation, we have not given up on peace, and we call on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities at this crucial juncture to salvage the small prospects that remain to make it a reality.  Israel, the occupying Power, must be demanded to cease immediately and completely all of its illegal policies and practices, in the Occupied State of  Palestine, including East Jerusalem, and to abide scrupulously by all of its legal obligations, and it must be held accountable should it persist with its violations.  Accountability is fundamental for ending impunity because as the SR also noted, “The general failure of accountability for past violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is a troubling indication that inaction will only lead to more injustices. Countless United Nations resolutions and reports attest to a situation that involves a persistent disregard for international law, including human rights law. The continuation of this reality, and the implications for future generations, cannot be tacitly accepted.” On this point, we cannot agree more.  

The occupying Power must be compelled to end its occupation, uphold international law and bring a halt to all its crimes in order to pave the way for a just and lasting solution, which our people have been unjustly denied for too long. But until then, the Palestinian people will continue to peacefully, legally and diplomatically resist occupation and demand their inalienable rights to live a free and dignified life in their own State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Thank you Mr. Chair.