EU Presidency Statement - United Nations Human Rights Council:
Item 7:
Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories

Summary: 29 September 2009, Geneva - Statement by H.E. Ambassador Hans Dahlgren, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office in Geneva, on behalf of the European Union, UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 12th Session (14 September - 2 October 2009), Item 7 - General Debate: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories

Mr President,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine and Armenia align themselves with this declaration. The European Union once again conveys its deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In light of the urgency to seek a durable solution to the crisis, the European Union urges the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel to enter into serious peace negotiations as soon as possible, respecting previous agreements. We hereby reiterate the need for a political solution, with an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state, comprising the West Bank and Gaza, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel. One of the European Union's overarching human rights priorities is combating impunity. On this basis, we call upon both parties to fully adhere to international humanitarian and human rights law.

All parties have responsibilities as regards preventing, investigating and remedying violations. The principle of accountability demands that all allegations of serious human rights violations and of violations of international humanitarian law must be thoroughly investigated.

Mr President,
A durable solution to the Gaza crisis has to be achieved through the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860. The EU remains gravely concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and calls for the immediate and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. Reconstruction and economic recovery has to be allowed. The European Union calls for a complete stop to all violence, including a sustained halt of rocket attacks at Israel. We reiterate our call on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay.

Mr President,
The declared readiness of the government of Israel to promote Palestinian economic development is a positive sign. We look forward to further and sustained improvements of movement and access in all of the occupied Palestinian territories. The Agreement on Movement and Access of 2005 must be fully implemented. The European Union remains deeply concerned by the continued settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in East Jerusalem. We urge the Government of Israel to end settlement activities immediately, including so called natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001. The EU reiterates that the settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace. The EU expresses its continued encouragement for inter-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas and support for the mediation efforts by Egypt and the Arab League. Overcoming divisions among Palestinians would help prevent a deeper separation between the West Bank and Gaza and preserve the chances of restoring the unity of a future Palestinian state. The Council calls on all Palestinians to find common ground, based on non-violence, in order to facilitate reconstruction in Gaza and the organisation of elections.

Mr President,
The Human Rights Council has before it the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. The Report includes allegations regarding grave violations of international humanitarian law, including deliberate attacks on civilians. The EU is committed to assess the report and its recommendations seriously. We will do so based on the clear positions expressed by the EU on the conduct of the conflict and the importance the EU attaches to a durable peace. The EU deeply deplores the loss of life during the Gaza conflict, particularly the civilian casualties. The EU has consistently reminded all parties to the conflict of their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. As we deliberate on how the Human Rights Council should respond to the report, the EU emphasises the importance of appropriate and credible investigations into possible violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the parties to the conflict in accordance with internationals standards, noting in this regard that the mission directs its recommendations to both Israel and Palestinian actors. The Council should ensure appropriate follow up in particular by assessing whether appropriate investigations have been conducted by both sides. The EU will remain actively engaged in negotiations on a resolution in the Human Rights Council on the follow-up to this report, as well as that of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Thank you, Mr President.