OIC Statement at the Special Sitting of the 58th Session of the Commission on Human Rights in Response to the Statement of the High Commissioner on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Item 4)

5 April 2002



Mr. Chairman,

1. The delegation of Malaysia is making this statement on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

2. The OIC has supported the proposal made by the Ambassador of Palestine for a Special Sitting of the Commission on Human Rights on the current situation in Palestine because of our deep concern about what is happening in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The situation there is deteriorating by the day. Palestinians are being killed, Israeli tanks are terrorizing the people and patrolling the streets with impunity, houses are burning, gunfire fill the air, utilities have been cut off, freedom of movement is impeded, ambulances are prohibited from getting to the wounded and President Arafat is being forcibly confined to his headquarters in Ramallah and even threatened with expulsion. These are blatant human rights abuses which are well within the mandate of this august Commission to pronounce on. The problem in the OPT has the potential of widening with news that the violence is spreading on several fronts.

3. Ariel Sharon has declared that “Israel is at war” and that its military actions are justified. Distinguished delegates, let me correct that perception. Israel is NOT at war. Israel IS WAGING THE WAR – against innocent Palestinians who have for years been the subject of military occupation and who have been deprived of their legitimate rights to a homeland and who are at the point of desperation. The “war”, as Israel terms it, is a war between David and Goliath, between civilians and battle tanks, between a defenceless people under military occupation and the might of state terrorism. The fact that this Commission has been discussing the question of the violation of human rights in the OPT year after year without finding a solution proves the impunity of Israel in disregarding the basic norms of international humanitarian law. The OIC would like to urge Israel, as the Occupying Power, to abide strictly by its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. We reiterate our position that the presence of observers or peacekeepers in the OPT is imperative to reduce violence and to ensure respect for the human rights of the Palestinians.

4. Three days ago on 2nd April, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs. Mary Robinson had presented a report on the deteriorating situation in the OPT and had proposed to send a visiting mission to the OPT and to return expeditiously to the Commission with its findings and recommendations. The OIC views the presentation of the report by the High Commissioner at this critical juncture of developments in the OPT as a serious commitment on her part to end the flagrant violation of human rights of the Palestinians. We would like to commend her for her dedication and great sense of justice towards the oppressed Palestinian people. Her concern reflects the concern worldwide against the military action of Israel. On behalf of the member countries of the OIC, Malaysia would like to urge the Commission to support the proposal by Mrs. Robinson to send a mission to the OPT with immediate effect. In this regard, we urge for the adoption of the OIC-sponsored resolution which has been proposed by Algeria on behalf of the OIC countries in order to give immediate effect to the High Commissioner’s recommendations.

5. At the recently concluded Extraordinary Session of the OIC Foreign Ministers on Terrorism held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1-3 April 2002, the OIC reaffirmed the continuing support of the Islamic States for the Palestinian People’s struggle for the liquidation of the Israeli occupation, the restoration of their inalienable national rights, including the right of refugees to return to their homes, the right to self determination and to establish their sovereign state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

6. The OIC would like to appeal to the major powers to take an even more proactive role in ending the current tense situation in the OPT and in solving the Palestinian problem. In this regard, the OIC would like to state emphatically that the state terrorism wielded by Israel must not be condoned but condemned. Ariel Sharon must be brought to his senses, Israel must withdraw from its military occupation of the OPT and the Palestinian people must be given their protection and legitimate right to a homeland. Israel must not be allowed to ride on the back of the anti-terrorism fervour emanating from the events of September 11 by legitimizing its brutal military actions against the Palestinian people as part of the “global war against terrorism”. To allow Israel to continue its actions with impunity is, in fact, to underwrite the state terrorism wielded by Israel.

 Mr. Chairman,

7. In concluding, may I add the voice of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the appeal by Mrs. Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in calling on our conscience to act immediately to end the carnage in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

I thank you for your attention.