Statements and Speeches
Statement by Mr. Mahlatse Mminele, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, for the Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories – Agenda Item 50
1 November 2016
My delegation wishes to express its appreciation to the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, H.E. Mr Amrith Rohan Perera in his capacity as the Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian Peoples and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories for his briefing to the Committee.
We also thank the other members of the Committee for their efforts and reassure them of South Africa unwavering support to the important work of the Special Committee.
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished Representative of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Today, the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee debate is taking place against the backdrop of heightened tension and sporadic acts of violence between Palestinians and Israelis as we have seen in Jerusalem and Hebron recently. Illegal Israeli settlements continue unabated and have led to a fragmentation of the West Bank and continue to threaten the feasibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Gaza remains under siege with the humanitarian situation deteriorating on a daily basis. We reiterate our condemnation of violence in all its forms regardless by whom it is perpetrated. We convey our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have been killed and injured.
It is more urgent than ever, that after almost half a century of occupation, we realize that the situation on the ground cannot be allowed to continue. It is increasingly becoming an impediment to the peace, security, stability and development in the wider Middle East region. In our view, ending the occupation is in the interest of Israel and Palestine alike and we would encourage all member states to direct the parties towards attaining a lasting solution to the conflict.
My delegation continues to be concerned regarding of the situation of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, specifically women and children. In this regard, we call on Israel to respect the human rights of all Palestinian prisoners and abide by relevant international humanitarian law including the Fourth Geneva Convention. We also call on the Israeli authorities to implement in full and immediately the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and the UN Rules for the treatment of Women prisoners (the Bangkok rules).
South Africa expresses its concern about the ongoing settlement activities by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as any further construction of settlements seriously undermines the two-state solution and threatens the viability and territorial contiguity of the future Palestinian State. These illegal settlements continue to be constructed despite the international community condemnations of such practices.
My delegation is concerned about the continuation of the demolition of Palestinians homes as well as structures provided to Palestinians as part of humanitarian assistance provided as is reported by the Secretary-General in his report (A/71/355). 796 Palestinians have been displaced by such demolitions in 2016. We are also particularly concerned of the Bedouin community in Area C who has been the most affected by the demolitions and face cases of forced transfer. It seems that these demolitions are aimed at forcibly removing the Bedouin community from that area.
South Africa is concerned of increased cases of settler violence against Palestinians and we appeal to the Israeli authorities to take action against the perpetrators of these acts of aggression.
We condemn in the strongest terms the unacceptable practice by the Israeli authorities not to release the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. We call for the immediate release of these bodies in order to allow the families to bury their loved ones in accordance with their religion and traditions.
Furthermore, South Africa stresses the urgent need for Israel to lift the illegal blockade on Gaza. The blockade continues to worsen the already dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Our recent discussions in the Security Council on the anniversary of Resolution 1325 dealing with women, peace and security, focused on the precarious situation of women and girls in conflict and its negative and harmful impact. The women and girls in Palestine are exposed to the most degrading circumstances where fear and helplessness inform their daily lives. This is a gross violation of their human rights and also needs the attention of the Special Committee.
In conclusion, South Africa concurs with the international community, that the only way to bring about genuine and everlasting peace between Israel and Palestine, is through having comprehensive and unconditional negotiations dealing with all final status issues including the unrelenting expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of Palestine, the lifting of the illegal Gaza blockade and the continuing occupation of the Palestinian territory. This will contribute immensely towards peace and security throughout the Middle East.
I thank you.