Council debates situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 15:22

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Mr Richard Falk, addressed the Human Rights Council (the Council) on 14 June 2010. Of significance was the Special Rapporteur’s emphasis on the importance of the Goldstone Report (A/HRC/12/48) and his call for full implementation of its recommendations. This was strongly supported by Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC). The Goldstone report predominated much of the dialogue as many countries reiterated their positions on the report. Other key themes of Mr Falk’s annual report focused on the developments related to the future of settlements, specifically in East Jerusalem and the blockade on the Gaza Strip. The Special Rapporteur stated that the persistent blockade of Gaza is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He was also highly critical of the continued Israeli occupation of the OPT, stating that infringing the ‘right of self-determination is a silent destroyer’ of all Palestinian aspirations.


Mr Falk stated that despite making formal requests for a visit, there was no indication that Israel would reconsider its policy of not cooperating with the Special Rapporteur. Thus, Mr Falk’s report is not based on an actual visit to the Palestinian territories. He noted that he would be arranging a visit to the Gaza Strip through Egypt in order to better assess the humanitarian needs and try to understand first hand the human rights implications of the blockade. Mr Falk regretted that the same States that have been critical about non-cooperation by Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) with the special procedures have remained ‘utterly silent’ regarding the non-cooperation by Israel.


Mr Falk emphasised that follow-up to the Goldstone Report is critical for the credibility of the Council, as ‘considerable strands of public opinion’ hinge on its implementation. This view was endorsed by several States. Other issues presented by the Special Rapporteur seemed to be neglected during the debate because of the strong emphasis on the Goldstone report, a fact regretted by the Special Rapporteur. This included in particular new developments in the physical and political separation of the Palestinian people.


At the same meeting, the High Commissioner announced the appointment of the members of the Committee of Independent Experts established at the 13th session. The Independent Experts are Professor Christian Tomuschat (Chair), Mr Param Cumaraswamy and Justice Mary McGowan Davis. They are tasked to ‘monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side’ in implementing the recommendations of the Goldstone report. The Russian Federation asserted the need for both sides to cooperate with the Committee. Additionally, Japan hoped that the Committee would be able to positively contribute to the investigations carried out by both sides.


During the General debate, Israel and the US emphasised the need for a balanced approach in Council’s consideration of the situation, and claimed that a disproportionate amount of time was being devoted to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Notably, the US asked the Council to take a more balanced approach to addressing violations by considering human rights situations around the world.  Moreover, the US regretted that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur focused only on violations committed by Israel.


Many States supported the holding of the proximity talks and striving for a two-State solution to the conflict, including Spain (on behalf of EU), South Africa, Japan and Italy. The US said that it was working vigorously to establish comprehensive peace with a two-State solution urging both Palestine and Israel to continue indirect talks as soon as possible. Israel advocated the need for peace and hoped that proximity talks would lead to renewed negotiations, but pointed out that its own security must be established first. On the same issue, Italy stated that while the blockade on Gaza should be lifted immediately, Israeli security had to be kept in mind when coming to any solutions. Spain (on behalf of EU) advocated a need to end hostilities and emphasised that the role of the Council is essential to end the violence on both sides. It did not, however, elaborate on how the Council could best fill that role.


Jordan, Syria, Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC), Cuba, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Sudan were very critical of Israel and in particular the recent military action on the Gaza flotilla. Cuba condemned the attack as ‘the latest incident’ of Israel’s unwillingness to comply with international standards. Moreover, Indonesia and Pakistan welcomed the Council's decision to dispatch an independent fact-finding mission to investigate the incident. On the matter, Italy regretted that it had to vote against the resolution but emphasised that the investigation should be full, impartial and include an international component. Israel defended its actions and stated that it will announce the establishment of an independent committee to analyse the legality of a number of key issues in the events connected to the incident.


Many States including Japan, Brazil, Pakistan (on behalf of OIC) and Egypt (on behalf of NAM) advocated an immediate end to the building of settlements, specifically in East Jerusalem, and Spain (on behalf of the EU) strongly encouraged the Council to speak with a united voice on this issue.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 August 2010 17:00
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