OIC STATEMENT ON AGENDA ITEM 8:
QUESTION OF THE VIolATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE,
58th Session of the Commission on Human Rights,
Geneva, 27 March 2002
1. The delegation of Malaysia is making this statement under agenda item 8 on behalf of the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
2.	We have read the Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (Document E/CN.4/2002/32). The message of the report is clear and simple: the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are victims of human rights abuses by the Israelis.
3. The inhuman treatment of children, the demolition of Palestinian houses and properties to make way for expansion and new Israeli settlements, the restrictions on the freedom of movement, are but a few examples of flagrant Israeli violations of human rights of the Palestinians. Apart from these, curfews are being imposed in the Occupied Territories, the water supply of the Palestinians is cut off and the Palestinians are constantly being harassed by the presence of Israeli ground troops, attack helicopters, tanks and F-16s patrolling their roads and skies. Meanwhile, the number of casualties, dead and wounded, rises so rapidly that it would be outdated even as we speak. Most of those killed and injured have been civilians, many of them children. In fact, the ten minutes allocated for this statement is insufficient, to say the least, to cover even a tiny portion of the atrocities and human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
4.	The OIC member countries are deeply concerned that despite the many UN resolutions and calls by the international community for Israel to cease its military actions, the situation in the Occupied Arab Territories of Palestine and Syrian Golan remains the same. Instead, the situation has worsened with no clear sign of abetting. The present attitude of the Israelis in flagrantly disregarding these resolutions and international humanitarian law must stop. The OIC member countries urge the Human Rights Commission to consider taking more effective action in ensuring the rights of the people in the Occupied Arab Territories of Palestine and Syrian Golan. Israel must be made to comply fully with the various UN resolutions and international humanitarian law on this matter. Otherwise, we are fearful that the credibility of this august Commission and that of the United Nations would be compromised.
5. The human rights situation of the people living in the Occupied Palestine Territories will not improve for as long as Israel relies on its policy of using military force rather than dialogue and negotiations. The Israeli aggression against the Palestinians must stop to avoid further humanitarian disaster to the civilians. We have seen enough sufferings and destruction. We have seen enough death among the innocent. How much more casualties and carnage must take place before there is peace in the Occupied Territories? We urge Israel to abide by its obligations as provided for under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. On 5 December 2001, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention reaffirmed the applicability of the Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel’s obligations as the Occupying Power.
6. The OIC would like to reiterate our views made at the Reconvened Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories needs to be monitored through an effective follow-up mechanism. This is in order to ensure respect for the human rights of the Palestinians and international humanitarian law. We had expressed the view that the mechanism could take various forms such as the deployment of impartial independent observers or the deployment of a peace-keeping force. The presence of these observers or peace-keepers is imperative to reduce violence and restore respect for human rights of the Palestinians. We urge that the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur for an international presence, either in the form of monitors or peacekeepers in the Occupied Palestine Territories, be given serious consideration.
7. On a related matter, the OIC member countries would like to reiterate our position that the activities of international humanitarian agencies and institutions such as United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) are essential for the survival of the Palestinian people. We are disturbed by the death of a United Nations staff member who was killed in a clearly marked UNRWA ambulance. We also share the same concern expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights over the fate of her staff and office in Gaza City which was bombed by the Israelis. Israel must respect the humanitarian work of these international agencies and ensure the safety of the personnel of these agencies at all times.
8. The policy of the Sharon government is to continue to justify the atrocities that it is perpetuating against the Palestinian people inspite of international condemnation. Sharon’s policy is to ride on the back of the anti-terrorism fervour emanating from the events of "September 11" and to justify its savage assaults against President Arafat and the Palestinian people as part of the "global war against terrorism". Every illegitimate action is justified as a legitimate act against terrorism. It is hardly surprising therefore, that Israel has challenged the Report of the Special Rapporteur whose mandate has been to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the context of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
9.	The world, however, is not blind to the truth of the matter. The Special Rapporteur, Mr. Dugard, has aptly summarised in his Report that: "It is the occupation of the Palestinian Territory that gives rise to savage acts of violence, highlighted by suicide bombings". For violence to end in the Palestinian territories, the answer to Sharon is clear enough: Allow the Palestinian people their legitimate right to an independent Palestinian State and Israel would have in one go addressed the root causes of terrorism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other parts of the Middle East. Only then can a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region be achieved. Only then can we see an end to the violence that have haunted us daily on the screens of our television sets and on the front pages of our newspapers and that have filled us all with a deep sense of horror.
10. With recent and current efforts by the United States and the Arab countries, supported by the OIC, towards seeking a lasting solution to the Palestinian problem, peace is within reach. The ball is now, and always has been, in Israel’s court. The message of the world to Israel is clear and simple : Give the Palestinians their due right to a homeland and let them enjoy the human rights and security that they rightly deserve.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.