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Statement by H.E. Aharon Leshno Yaar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Geneva... 22 March 2010

1. FOLLOW UP TO ITS NINTH AND TWELFTH SPECIAL SESSIONS ON THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

AHARON LESHNO-YAAR (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said Israel would focus particularly on investigations, legal proceedings, and lessons learned in relation to the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza from 27 December 2008 through 18 January 2009. Israel had published two papers on the topic.

The first, from July 2009, addressed a range of factual and legal issues related to the Gaza operation and described Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel, more than 12,000 in the past eight years, and smuggling of weapons and ammunition through tunnels on the border with Egypt, among other issues.

A second paper, presented in late January 2010, provided a clear and updated picture of the current status of Israel's investigations. Israel's system for investigating alleged violations of the Law of Armed Conflict was comparable to the systems adopted by other democratic nations. It had multiple layers of review to ensure impartiality and independence, including the Military Advocate General's Corps.

Of 150 incidents, so far 36 had been referred for criminal investigations, and through the end of January 2010 investigators had taken information from almost 100 Palestinian complainants and witnesses. The 150 investigations initiated following the Gaza operation were not limited to incidents in the Human Rights Council report of the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

The indictment of two soldiers, as described, was an example of an investigation of an incident not mentioned in that report. Israel disagreed with the findings and recommendations of the report, which reflected many misunderstands and fundamental mistakes with regard to the Gaza operation, its purposes, and Israel's legal system. Regarding the incidents described in the human rights fact-finding report, even prior to the publication of that report, Israel had already investigated 22 of the 34 incidents it addressed.

The remaining 12 incidents, none of which had previously been brought to the attention of the Israeli authorities, had been promptly referred for investigation. Israel recognized the importance of conducting the investigative process in a timely manner, but it also noted the need to ensure that legal processes were conducted thoroughly and with full due process, and in a manner comparable with that of other States, guided by a respect for the rule of law.

2. GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES

AHARON LESHNO-YAAR (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said the same type of rocket had been used to kill Israeli children that the Palestinian representative in this chamber had referred to as a "firecracker". Justice Goldstone had written that the firing of those rockets amounted to war crimes.

Hamas and their allies continued to fire them at civilians in Israel, and the Council was doing nothing about it – and expected that Israel did nothing. It was frustrating; for nearly 62 years, the State of Israel had called upon its neighbours to live in peace, side by side, but despite that aspiration, and the many steps taken to build confidence, conflict and strife continued in much of the region. That reality of a continuing conflict had brought suffering to many in the region, and the Israelis had felt that pain.

Palestinians, too, had suffered, and had aspirations for a better future for their families and communities, as did Syrians, seeking development and freedom for better lives and more opportunities.

The State of Israel was the national home of the Jewish people, who returned to their land after 2,000 years. Zionism was the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. The United Nations decided in 1947 to partition the land into two States, and Israel came into being in 1949.

During the next 19 years, an Arab State was not formed on the Palestinian territories; therefore it was untrue to say that it had not come into being merely because Israel seized the territory. Israel believed that a two-State solution was the only solution, believing that that was the only way for all to live side by side in peace with their neighbours.

Much that took place in this hall was not guided by friends of those aspirations – it had been transformed into yet another painful battleground. The Council had not built hope or confidence, but had nurtured bitterness and anger, mistrust and suspicion. The Council spent a disproportionate amount of time on this one issue.

Any person of good faith would agree that Israel was making a genuine attempt to deal with the situation. The cynicism of the draft resolutions before the Council and the atmosphere of the forum were in danger of harming the United Nations and the path towards peace in the Middle East.