Chair of UN Rights Council Defends UN Watch Against Egyptian Bid to Stifle Debate on UN Impunity for Palestinian Terror




      Egypt’s Amr Roshdy Hassan                        UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer


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UN Human Rights Council
General Debate on Agenda Item 7
“Human rights situation in Palestine
and other occupied Arab territories”

UN Watch Statement
Delivered by Hillel Neuer, June 16, 2008


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United Nations was founded on the dream of peace and human rights for all. Can this Council take steps to help bring this dream to all peoples of the Middle East?  I believe we can.

Let us consider the Council’s current mandate on the Palestinian territories. It is the only standing investigation that expressly ignores the violations of one side, thereby granting them impunity.

A proposal was made from the podium this morning, to remedy this bias.

As a Council for Human Rights, should it not protect the human rights of all human beings in the region, Arab and Israeli? If we believe that under the Universal Declaration human rights are indivisible — that all human beings are created equal in the eyes of God — should not this proposal be immediately and enthusiastically endorsed?

We call on all member states to support turning this mandate into one that respects the human rights of all, by scrutinizing Palestinian violations  as well — be it terrorist and rocket attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, or human rights violations against fellow Palestinians.

Mr. President, there is a dire protection gap. A one-sided mandate that was created in February 1993, before the PLO and the Hamas took direct control over territory and the lives of millions of Palestinians, must now be updated.

If I understand correctly, however, many in this chamber, including the distinguished representatives of Algeria, Egypt, Cuba and Palestine, do not accept this proposal.

They have argued, inter alia, that there is no symmetry between the two sides.

Even if that were true, however, on what basis in international human rights and humanitarian law does asymmetry become a license to kill?

[Chair bangs on gavel to hear Egyptian point of order.]


Egyptian representative Amr Roshdy Hassan

Mr. President, first, this speaker has spoken in the interactive dialogue. Why is he given the floor again? And secondly, is he commenting on the [Agenda] Item? Or on the statements made by states on the Item? I think the discussion here is on the Item which is OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], not the statement of Egypt, not the statement of Algeria. So whenever we raise our procedural point, we are accused of being against civil society, or trying to waste their time. Then be it! If they are not to respect their time, we don’t have to respect it. Thank you.

Thank you.

As for the first question, I would recall that we are now in a General Debate under Item 7. In the morning we had an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur under Item 7.

Having said that, I think that we have two separate moments when the floor may be asked, and can be given.

As for the second question, I will say this only once. Please, refer in your statements at the topic at hand.

We go back to the speaker.You have the floor, sir.


UN Human Rights Council President
Doru Costea


When a Kassam rocket kills, wounds or terrorizes an innocent child in Sderot or Ashkelon, on what basis in international law or morality should the perpetrators of these crimes enjoy impunity?

Where in international law is it written that the murder of innocent civilians can be excused by a defense of purported asymmetry?

[Chair bangs on gavel to hear Egyptian point of order.]


Mr. President, you said that you will say it once, that everybody should stick their statements to the item. But now the speaker is just continuing his statement, as if nothing happened!


Excuse me, I have a small problem here. I can’t read the statement beforehand. So let us listen to the statement, and then we will react. Please continue, sir.


Since 2001, Palestinians have fired 3,484 Kassam rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Since Israel withdrew fully from the Gaza Strip in 2005, there have been 2,901 rocket attacks. Since Hamas took over Gaza one year ago, there have been 1,463 attacks.

Now, it was argued today that the root cause of the conflict is Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But how can that be the root cause when many of the countries making this argument refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist long before 1967? How can Palestinian terrorist attacks be a consequence of 1967, when they started long before, with Yasser Arafat creating the PLO in 1964?

Mr. President, the root cause of the conflict is the refusal by certain states and non-state actors to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The president of Iran has just again called for Israel’s destruction. His government supports terrorist groups with the same genocidal ideology across the region.

This hatred is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and only when it is cured will we see true peace and human rights.

Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch