Reports and Studies

Joint oral statement before the UN Commission on Human Rights, 58th Session

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1 May 2002

al-Mezan Center for Human Habitat International Coalition
Housing and Land Rights Network Mr.
Chairman: HIC shares its time for a combined statement with al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine, an affiliate of the Habitat International Coalition and its Housing and Land Rights Network.
Chairman, on 5 March 2002 before the Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon explained his strategy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, saying that 'the aim is to increase the losses on the other side.
Only after they've been battered will we be able to conduct talks.
' This statement has come to characterize the general policy of the Israeli occupation forces, as was especially evident at the beginning of March of this year when the Occupied Palestinian Territories experienced a dramatic upsurge in destruction, bloodshed and trauma.
Repeated sieges and closures of villages, towns, and cities constitute a form collective punishment, a violation of international law.
The loss of income to the territories since September 2000 has been estimated at between $2.
5 and $3.
2 billion.
These closures and undisciplined military action by Israel impair economic life and freedom of movement, access to basic foodstuffs and medicines, and even preventing ambulances and medical services from administering to the injured and sick, as well as pregnant mothers and their newborns who have died at Israeli checkpoints.
UNRWA has reported that the war on the refugee camps has cost it $3.
8 million in physical damages, of which $2.
3 million are refugee homes.
Indeed, the destruction of Palestine has been one of the earth's most well documented cases of its kind and the subject of many resolutions.
However, States Members of the UN have not done enough to arrest the pattern of theft, destruction and war crimes that Israel carries out against indigenous civilians, despite the mayhem that the colonisation of Palestine has brought to the region.
Moreover, Western Governments lining up in support of a colonial-settler State have subverted the UN Charter's founding principles of international cooperation, self-determination and non-discrimination.
This axis strikes at the very pillars of the international legal regime and shatters public faith in the interstate system as such.
With each new atrocity, officials who rationalise their double standards ratchet civilisation back to a level that predates the development of international human rights law, and even betrays their own States, noble contributions to it.
Alas, we can only dread another disingenuous and unproductive “peace process� that evades the lessons of history, disregards the legal criteria of the international system and enables this most-exceptional of UN members piously to carry out a whole range of human rights abuses.
A political program toward Palestinian self-determination in the OPT is minimally agreeable, but every peace plan so far has left untreated the institutionalised discrimination practiced inside the Green Line against the indigenous Arab citizens of Israel and the Palestinian refugees still in exile.
The gross violations of housing rights in Israel and the OPT necessitates conscientious actions by States and others.
HIC calls upon States to comply with obligations as human rights duty holders by ensuring that the Occupying Power address the causes of the conflict and: Immediately cease all Jewish settlement activity throughout the territories occupied in 1967.
Dismantle all illegal settlements and other forms of occupation, and/or transfer settlements to full indigenous jurisdiction.
Cease all planning and construction of new Jewish settlement infrastructure installations.
End confiscations and house demolitions for any purpose.
Cancel all existing demolition orders.
Restore public and private Palestinian land and properties to their rightful owners.
Halt completely, and diligently prosecute criminal acts by settlers.
Promptly and completely withdraw all Israeli forces and agents from all areas occupied in 1967, in accordance with binding Security Council resolutions.
In accordance with treaty body observations, repeal the Basic Laws that provide for special and unique privileges to “Jewish nationals,� including the “Law of Return� and “Law of Absentee Property,� as well as some twenty additional laws that formally institutionalise discrimination inside Israel,[1] and are imposed in the OPT.
Adopt a uniform and non-discriminatory civil status of Israeli nationality and citizenship consistent with international standards and custom.
Sever the State of Israel's constitutional relationship with the World Zionist Organisation/Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund and their affiliates, which are chartered discriminate against non-Jews of Israel and engage in illegal colonising activity in the OPT.
[2] Ensure that all institutions within the State's jurisdiction and effective control operate on the basis of non-discrimination.
Effect full restitution and reparations[3] for Palestinian civilian victims, material an nonmaterial losses arising from Israeli actions.
Redirect efforts of existing planning and development institutions, in particular those specialized in resettlement, rehabilitation and “absorption,� (such as the WZO/JA and JNF mentioned above) to facilitate the implementation of Palestinian and Syrian refugees and displaced persons, right of return to their homes and properties, including the implementation of restitution and compensation for losses and injuries arising from the violations of these rights.
We turn the Commission's attention to the volumes of evidence and recommendations presented here and in the reports by Special Rapporteurs John Dugard, on the occupied territories, and Miloon Kothari, on adequate housing.
We also deplore the fact that, although the Commission explicitly requested the latter report, some forces in the Bureau so far have succeeded to suppress it.
We ask that this Commission take this report into consideration as an important part of the evidence before to it.
Thank you, Mr.
[1] Consistent with the Concluding Observations of UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights E/C.
27, 4 December 1998, paras.
13 and 35.
[2] Ibid, paras.
11 and 36.
[3] Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, E/CN.
2/1996/17, 24 May 1996; E/CN.
2/1997, 16 January 1007; E/CN.
4/2000/62, 18 January 2000.