(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)
Jerusalem, November 28, 2000
The report of the High Commissioner on Human Rights published on
November 27 expresses its deep concern for the violence in Israel
and the Palestinian Authority. It voices strong reservations
about the Palestinian conduct. The report also includes
problematic elements which we find unacceptable.
The report claims that Israel uses excessive force. During the
visit of the High Commissioner, Mary Robinson, Israel made it
clear that the IDF is only taking action in response to violence,
and is acting in self-defense. It is also using great restraint,
with the aim of avoiding civilian casualties, where possible.
With regard to settlements, this issue will be discussed at the
negotiating table. Israel demonstrated great willingness to
discuss this issue during the Camp David summit, but the
Palestinian leadership chose to resort to violence, instead of
exhausting the negotiations process.
The Commissioner believes that the deployment of an international
observer force in the territories should be considered, a matter
which is being discussed in UN forums. In this context, Israel
wishes to make it clear that it opposes the deployment of any
international force prior to the accomplishment of an agreement.
With regard to the implementation of closures which cause some
hardship for the Palestinian population, we wish to clarify that
this is an essential security measure which has been taken
following the Palestinian release of notorious terrorists and the
imminent threat of terrorist attacks in Israel.
Israel respects the principles of humanitarian international law,
and is doing its utmost to facilitate humanitarian assistance,
the transfer of medicine and medical equipment, including
medicine from Arab countries with which Israel has no diplomatic
relations. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have exploited
ambulances for use in hostilities, and by doing so, flagrantly
violate international law.
Israel reiterates that it will not cooperate with the
implementation of the operative clauses of this one-sided
resolution of the UN Commission on Human Rights of October 19,
2000 and the ECOSOC resolution of November 22, 2000. These
resolutions were supported by a coalition of Arab and non-aligned
states, conflicting with the positions of western countries known
for their respect of human rights.
UN Rights Chief Seeks Monitors in Mideast
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. rights chief Mary Robinson called
Monday for international monitors to be sent to the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, where she accused Israel of ``excessive use of
force'' against Palestinians.
In a report to the U.N. General Assembly, she called on
both Israeli security forces and the Palestinians to spare
civilian lives and property, and make efforts to halt the
''current dangerous escalation'' of violence.
The death toll in two months of clashes in the tense region
reached 281 people, most of them Palestinians, with the deaths
of six Palestinians Monday.
Robinson said Israel had rejected so far the idea of an
international monitoring or protection presence.
She also called for a halt to construction of new Jewish
settlements in the territories, where Israeli military
installations protecting them have become ``flashpoints for
stone-throwing and shooting by Palestinians with severe
retaliation by Israeli military,'' according to her report.
The former Irish president was reporting on a November 8-16
trip to Israel, the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Jordan and Egypt.
``The thrust of the report is urgently calling international
attention to the bleak human rights situation in the occupied
territories, the need for an international monitoring
presence...and the need for measures to be taken to reduce the
terrible violence,'' she told a news conference in Geneva.
``The number of killed and seriously injured -- disabled for
life -- is very serious indeed, and a high percentage of those
-- nearly 50 percent -- are under the age of 18,'' she added.
``I have put to them (Israeli defense officials) various
points including the excessive use of force, live ammunition
and rubber bullets at close range,'' Robinson said.
The economic effects have been ``devastating'' as
Palestinians have also lost access to jobs because of Israeli
security measures, the report said.
Partial Israeli Withdrawal Sought
Robinson called for Israeli defense forces to ``withdraw
from some of their forward positions'' and lower their military
profile generally in the territories, which she said could help
break the cycle of violence.
``The construction of new settlements should cease and those
located in the midst of heavily populated Palestinian areas
should be removed,'' she added. ``As well as protecting settlers,
Israeli security forces should also protect Palestinians from
violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers.''
Robinson said that during her ``very frank'' meetings with
senior Israeli Defense Force officers, she had raised the
possibility of deploying an international monitoring or
protection force in the territories.
``The viewpoint put to me was that Israel did not favor
internationalizing the conflict in this way but they would
prefer if possible to have dialogue resumed on the previous
basis of continuing with basically the Oslo (peace) process.
``But I had an impression, it is just an impression, that it
was not in fact completely ruled out on the Israeli side. I
would hope that was the case,'' she added.