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UN Official Urges International Observers Deployed in Palestinian Territories - 2002-04-02

The United Nations top human rights official, Mary Robinson, says international monitors must be sent to the Palestinian territories to stop the cycle of violence and human rights violations. The human rights chief made her appeal to delegates attending the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

U.N. human rights chief, Mary Robinson, notes the last days have brought a frightening increase in the loss of life in Israel and the Palestinian territories. She says Palestinians continue to be subjected to a wide range of human rights violations related to the ongoing occupation and adds Israel also continues to suffer from the deliberate planned killing of civilians. She says efforts by the international community, including those of the Human Rights Commission, have not brought an end to the hostilities. She says this spiral of violence and arbitrary deprivation of life must be ended.

"In my report to the Commission on my visit to the region in November 2000, I asked that the feasibility of establishing an international monitoring presence be explored," she said. "That proposal, I believe, should now be implemented. International observers on the ground can be a deterrent to the violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and also can promote human security against suicide and other attacks on Israeli civilians."

High Commissioner Robinson describes in grim detail how dangerous and difficult life for ordinary Palestinians has become. She says United Nations aid workers are unable to bring humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of refugees. She accuses the Israeli military of preventing ambulances from reaching victims and providing assistance.

The Israeli ambassador, Yaakov Levy is clearly angered by what he hears. In remarks following the high commissioner, he told Ms. Robinson he wished she also had spoken and listened carefully to the Israeli victims of suicide bombers.

"I think had you listened to these people, to the Israeli side of the story," he said, "your presentation would have been much more balanced and given the proper context to whatever defensive actions Israel has to take against this network of terrorism which is commanded by Mr. Arafat and his supporters."

The U.N. Human Rights Commission spends one week of its annual six-week session examining Israeląs human rights record in the Palestinian territories. Israel also is the only member of the United Nations that is barred from being a member of the commission. Israeląs supporters call this patently unfair.