UN body condemns Israel on occupied Palestinian territories, Europe urged to act

Palestine-Israel, Politics, 4/20/2001
The top United Nations rights body on Wednesday condemned the
"disproportionate and indiscriminate" use of force by Israel in the occupied
Palestinian territories.

In one of four resolutions adopted on rights violations in the occupied Arab
territories, the Commission on Human Rights urged Israel to make every effort
to ensure that its security forces observed international standards regarding
the use of force.

By a vote of 28 in favor to two opposed (Guatemala and the United States)
with 22 abstentions, the Commission "strongly deplored" the practice of
extra-judicial killings carried out by Israeli forces, expressed its concern
at the large number of persons who have been detained during recent months,
and condemned the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogations.

In another text, adopted by a vote of 29 in favor with the same two countries
opposed and 21 abstentions, the Commission called on Israel to stop imposing
its laws and jurisdiction over Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Israel should "desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity
cards on the Syrian citizens" and halt its repressive measures against them,
the Commission stressed.

The third resolution -- adopted by a vote of 50 in favor to one opposed
(United States) with one abstention (Costa Rica) -- urges Israel to cease its
policy of expanding settlements in the occupied territories, including East
Jerusalem. The fourth text (33-1-19) calls on Israel to refrain from holding
Lebanese citizens in its prisons as hostages for bargaining purposes and to
release them immediately.

In other action today, the Commission passed a "motion of no-action" by a
vote of 23-17-12 on a United States-sponsored resolution on the situation of
human rights in China -- thereby blocking a vote on the text.

The Commission, which is holding its 57th session, heard a report by the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders,
Hina Jilani, who said that the degree of violence used to silence voices
speaking out in defense of human rights was increasing daily. "I am deeply
concerned by the variety of repressive trends, measures and practices used to
threaten the freedom of action of human rights defenders," Ms. Jilani said.
She added that the failure of States to offer effective guarantees against
the violation of rights had given a more critical dimension to the issue of
human security.

Meantime, a statement by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
said that "the UN Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution on the
question of human rights violations in the Occupied Territories*, which
expressed grave concern at the gross violations of human rights and
international humanitarian law, including closures, expropriation of
Palestinian homes, torture, and Israeli settlement activities and strongly
condemned the disproportionate and indiscriminate recourse to force."

"All EU states abstained from voting in favour of the resolution, thus
disregarding the Palestinian population's urgent need for international
protection including a halt to collective punishment that so far has caused
one million Palestinians to live under the poverty line."

The statement added "The EU statesâ lack of support for the resolution is
undermining the ongoing work for the development of the human rights
dimension of the Barcelona Process, as it is contrary to the Barcelona
Declaration's commitment to act in accordance with international human rights
principles and obligations under international law and to "support the
realisation of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace settlement in the
Middle East based on the relevant United Nations Security Council

"The EMHRN urges the EU to apply article 2 of the Association Agreement
between the EU and Israel and in the Interim Agreement between the EU and the
PLO, which calls for the respect for human rights, and take immediate,
effective and comprehensive measures to ensure the protection and peace for
the Palestinian and Israeli people."