Special Political Committee Says Israel's 'Grave Breaches' of Geneva Convention Are 'War Crimes and an Affront to Humanity'

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Special Political Committee says Israel's 'grave breaches' of Geneva Convention are 'war crimes and an affront to humanity'

The Special Political Committee on 8 November asked the General Assembly to declare that Israel's "grave breaches" of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War were "war crimes and an affront to humanity".

The Committee also asked the Assembly to condemn "the continued and persistent violation" by Israel of the 1949 Geneva Convention and other applicable international instruments, and "strongly" condemn 15 specific examples of Israeli policies and practices in the occupied territories.

The body adopted six other draft resolutions under the agenda item on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the population of the occupied territories.

The draft on the 1949 Convention was adopted by 90 votes to 2 (Israel, United States), with 27 abstentions.

Prior to its adoption as a whole, the Committee approved the paragraph referring to "grave breaches" by a recorded vote of 79 in favour to 18 against, with 23 abstentions.

Another paragraph, approved separately by a recorded vote, would have the Assembly call upon Israel, the occupying Power, to allow the reopening of the Roman Catholic Medical Facility Hospice in Jerusalem to provide needed health and medical services to the city's Arab population. The vote was 117 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 3 abstentions (Cote d'Ivoire, United States, Zaire).

In other provisions, the Assembly would:

* Strongly condemn the arming of Israeli settlers in the occupied territories to commit acts of violence against Arab civilians and the perpetration of acts of violence by those armed settlers against individuals, causing injury and death and wide-scale damage to Arab property;

* Call upon Israel, the occupying Power, to take immediate steps for the return of all displaced Arab and Palestinian inhabitants to their homes or former places of residence in the occupied territories;

* Request the Security Council to ensure Israel's respect for and compliance with all the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention in the occupied territories, and to initiate measures to halt Israeli policies and practices in those territories; and

* Extend the mandate of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories for another year.

By other drafts approved, the Committee asked the Assembly to:

* Call upon Israel to release all Arabs arbitrarily detained and/or imprisoned as a result of their struggle for self-determination, and demand that Israel release immediately Ziyad Abu Ein and others, who had been arbitrarily detained after their release (77 to 2 (Israel, United States), with 29 abstentions);

* Demand that Israel, the occupying Power, desist forthwith from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status, geographical nature or demographic composition of the occupied territories, including Jerusalem; and determine that all measures and actions taken by Israel in those territories designed to change their legal status, geographical nature and demographic composition had no legal validity (118 to 1 (Israel), with 2 abstentions (Malawi, United States));

* Demand that Israel, the occupying Power, rescind the illegal measures taken by the Israeli military occupation authorities in expelling the Mayor of Halhul, the Sharia Judge of Hebron and other Palestinians expelled during 1985, and that it facilitate the immediate return of the expelled Palestinians (106 to 1 (Israel), with 14 abstentions);

(Prior to adopting that draft as a whole, the Committee approved one paragraph asking the Assembly to strongly condemn Israel, the occupying Power, "for its persistent refusal to comply with the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions" (98 to 2 (Israel, United States), with 22 abstentions). …