H.E. Ambassador Ahmed A. Al-Jarman
The Permanent Representative
At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your initiative to convene these meetings to review the report of the Human Rights Council on its twelfth special session (A/64/53/Add.1), held on 15 and 16 October 2009, on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem, and of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone report (A/HRC/12/48).
The United Arab Emirates, which has read with great interest the executive summary of the Mission’s report, is deeply concerned and shocked by the information contained therein, which reflects, in one way or another, the gravity of the human rights violations and violence committed by the Israeli forces during the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip. The conclusions and facts contained in the report, which cover only 36 out of hundreds of tragic incidents that occurred there, clearly reflect the serious and systematic human rights violations committed by Israel against the unarmed civilian population of Gaza. These violations are sufficient to legally convict Israel of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, as punishable under international criminal law.
The Mission’s investigation concluded that the comprehensive military operation launched by Israel against Gaza by air, land and sea under the name of Cast Lead has used excessive force and violence, which is an internationally illegal act. The comprehensive, direct and unprecedented military strikes launched by the Israeli forces far exceeded any military imperative and did not discriminate between civilian and military targets. These strikes — which targeted houses and densely populated civilian areas, including vital facilities such as hospitals — resulted in the killing of more than 1,400 Palestinians and injuring and crippling of thousands of others, mostly children, women and the elderly.
The Israeli military operations deliberately and directly targeted United Nations facilities and buildings in Gaza which were being used to shelter hundreds of fleeing people and refugees during the war. One of the schools of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was sheltering more than 1,400 people at that time, was hit excessively, resulting in tragic losses of life. Furthermore, the systematic economic and political isolation of Gaza and the imposition of restrictions on the entry of basic humanitarian assistance, including food, medicine and fuel, dramatically affected the humanitarian, social, health and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
The United Arab Emirates renews its condemnation of the serious crimes and violations committed by Israel in Gaza and in other cities and villages of the West Bank and East Jerusalem mentioned in the Goldstone report. These Israeli violations are a new addition to its long record of war crimes and systematic violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people since 1948. We therefore call upon the international community, in particular all bodies and organs of the United Nations, to take urgent action within their respective mandates and in accordance with the recommendations of the Goldstone report. Such action must compel Israel immediately to end its siege of Gaza, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), and its serious violations of the human rights of the Palestinians — violations which are responsible for fuelling violence and instability in the region, undermining international peace and security and impeding the resumption of the Middle East peace process.
We also call for the General Assembly to endorse the report on the twelfth special session of the Human Rights Council and its recommendations (A/HRC/S-12/1), which call upon the Secretary-General to refer the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to the Security Council for review and immediate action in accordance with the Charter and with provisions of international law. The report also calls on Israel to urgently initiate effective, independent and impartial investigations within a specified period of time in order to identify those directly responsible for these violations, hold them accountable and ensure that they do not enjoy impunity. We call for the condemnation of all acts of killing, destruction and crimes against humanity committed by Israel, which led to a deplorable state of total economic, social and environmental destruction in Gaza, which continues to this day.
We urge the Government of Switzerland, the depositary of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to urgently take the necessary steps to hold a conference for the High Contracting Parties of that Convention to consider the measures required for its enforcement in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and for Israel’s implementation of its obligations as an occupying Power.
We stress the need to keep this matter under continuous consideration in the General Assembly in the light of the reports to be submitted in this regard by the Secretary-General. We also call upon the international community to step up the economic and humanitarian assistance it provides to the Palestinians in Gaza, including efforts to rebuild basic institutions, and to expand the services provided by the specialized agencies.
In conclusion, we urge all Member States which support international legality to vote in favour of draft resolution A/64/L.11, in order to achieve human justice and promote a culture in which there is no place for impunity, in accordance with relevant international protocols and international law.