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Statements in International Organisations


United Nations - Human Rights Council 6th Special Session (Geneva)

Statement on behalf of the European Union, given by HE Ambassador Andrej Logar

Mr. President,

I am speaking on behalf of the European Union.

(Alignment formula)

The European Union is deeply concerned about the latest surge of violence in and near Gaza, affecting Gaza and communities in Southern Israel. We deplore the fact that innocent civilians on both sides are suffering and call on both sides for an immediate end to all acts of violence. We call for an immediate end to the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel. We also request the Israeli government to refrain from all activities which are contrary to international law and endanger civilians. The recent developments that we are addressing today are particularly regrettable and untimely given the need to maintain the positive impetus generated by the launch of negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials on all outstanding issues, including all final status issues, in view of concluding a peace agreement before the end of 2008 as agreed in Annapolis last November. The goal remains the establishment of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that will unite all Palestinians, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. 

The EU is deeply committed to the promotion and protection of all human rights for all. We see this Council as an important and appropriate forum in which to consider and, as appropriate, take timely action concerning human rights situations of concern. All human rights, including economic and social rights are an integral part of the Council's work.

The EU is deeply cognizant of the severe human rights violations in Gaza. Humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate as a result of continued violence and restrictions on movement and access of people and goods in the Palestinian Territories. We note with concern most recent information on large numbers of Palestinians flooding through Egyptian border. The following data attest to the gravity of situation.

The 2008 Humanitarian Appeal by OCHA indicates that over 60% of all Palestinian households live in poverty; in the Gaza Strip the rate has reached an even more alarming 88%. Obstacles to movement in the West Bank have increased and closures of major crossings in the Gaza Strip have hindered the ability to adequately respond to the basic needs of the people. The World Health Organization further reports recent increases in chronic diseases and chronic malnutrition among children under five and lack of access to safe drinking water.

The current humanitarian conditions and restrictions on movement in the West Bank and Gaza therefore remain of great concern. Israeli and Palestinian officials must reach agreement on immediate actions to improve movement and access in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the delivery of these most basic provisions and services. We are aware of obstacles in the West Bank that have contributed to inefficiencies and delays also in NGOs program operations. The EU reiterates the need for the continuous provision of essential services, including medical supplies. Delivery of EU funded fuel has resumed yesterday, allowing some electricity supply to the Gaza Strip to be restored. We very much hope that no obstacles will be put to these deliveries in the future. The EU remains committed to provide substantial financial support for the Palestinian people, and working out the means to bring this assistance to those who need it urgently. In this context the EU reiterates its call on all parties for unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza and urgently calls on Israel to ensure the opening of crossings for goods and people. The Israelis must take steps to reverse the current humanitarian situation.

Clearly, the picture with regard to human rights of the Palestinian people is indeed bleak. Action must be taken to improve the deteriorating humanitarian conditions, which are driving families deeper into poverty. The current situation is not only deeply alarming for the children and families living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also incompatible with a just and enduring peace and must be addressed. We are aware that the Israeli military incursions and activities have further exacerbated the severe humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

We are also deeply alarmed by the indiscriminate launching of rockets on Israeli civilian areas. The Palestinians must address all relevant security concerns. 

While recognising Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence, the EU urges Israel to exercise utmost restraint and underlines that action should not be disproportionate, indiscriminate or otherwise in contradiction to international humanitarian law. We call on Israel to cease all military operations that endanger the Palestinian civilian population in the Palestinian Territories. The EU reminds all parties of their obligation to respect human rights and comply with international humanitarian law and not to endanger civilians.

The EU stresses the need to seek a political solution to the crisis. The EU reiterated its intention in the open debate just held in the Security Council in New York (22 January 2008) to actively contribute to the work to get the Middle East Peace Process urgently back on track within the Quartet. The EU remains determined to contribute significantly to this effort, as laid down in its Action Strategy; “State building for Peace in the Middle East”, which covers the broad range of its assistance activities.

The EU is firmly committed to remain actively involved in order to support the parties' efforts to keep the negotiations on track.

Thank You Mr. President


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Date: 29.01.2008