UN Committee Accused of Misrepresenting Israeli Practices

Israel’s delegate, Shamay Cahana, charged yesterday that the report of “The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of the Occupied Territories” was politically motivated and “tendentiously ignored or misrepresented the facts.” In a speech delivered to the Special Political Committee, Cahana, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official, noted that the three-member committee representing Ceylon. Somalia and Yugoslavia, had used procedures incompatible with accepted international standards of investigation.

“It has suppressed evidence favorable to Israel, has been selective in quoting from Israeli sources and has accepted as absolute truth evidence which was false, so long as it supported its preconceived ideas,” Cahana said. He cited a number of examples of charges accepted by the committee without investigation, charges which were refuted upon proper investigation by objective observers.

Cahana also charged that the committee had far exceeded its mandate by asserting as its point of departure, that “it considers that in this case the fundamental violation of human rights lies in the very fact of occupation.” With such an assertion, he said, there was no reason to investigate. The committee’s mind was made up before it began its work. Cahana said the committee has given currency to the myths of Israeli mass “deportation of Arabs from territories under Israeli administration” and was guilty of deliberate misrepresentation of Israeli policies.

The reality is, Cahana noted, that Israel administers the occupied territories, fully recognizing that it is “bound by law, by humanitarian considerations and by enlightened self-interest to treat the inhabitants as it does its own subjects.” Arabs of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank move freely from one area to another without permits, he stated. Israel pursues a policy of “minimum interference” and the presence of Israeli authorities is as “discreet” as possible, he asserted.

“The Arab population enjoys almost complete autonomy in administering its municipal and community affairs” and “freedom of expression” exists in the administered territories, Cahana declared, including the right to criticize the Israeli government and its policies. Israeli practices have provided the Arabs with the means of making economic progress and improving their standards of living and has maintained “security and public order” in the administered territories, Cahana declared. He acknowledged that the Arabs do not “particularly welcome” Israeli administration of the occupied territories. “The present administration will eventually come to an end,” he continued, “when the conflict is settled and final boundaries established.”

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