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American Defends Israel’s Human Rights Record at UN Parley

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Jerome Shestack, the American delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, said here that attacks on Israel’s human rights practices in the occupied Arab territories “simply (do) not accord” with the findings of the U.S. State Department published in its 1979 report on human rights in Israel and other countries throughout the world.

Shestack spoke after a succession of speakers denounced Israel for alleged violations of Arab rights in the territories during a debate on the issue which opened here last week under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He noted that “The specific issues concerning the occupied territories, such as civilian settlements, allegations of torture, arrests and detention, economic development and political rights are dealt with” in the State Department’s report. He offered to make copies available to any delegate.

“I must regretfully note for the record here that much of what we have been hearing at this session about the human rights situation in Israel and the occupied territories simply does not accord with the careful, considered conclusions in that report,” Shestack said.

Speaking earlier, Niall MacDermot, secretary general of the International Commission of Jurists, one of the non-governmental bodies participating in the debate, claimed that an a visit to Israel and the occupied territories last month he found that psychological pressure, including prolonged periods of sleep deprivation, are still widely resorted to by Israeli officials in the course of interrogating Arab suspects.”

MacDermot also said that he was fully convinced that the “Camp David agreements” and the “autonomy” scheme were totally rejected by the Palestinian population. He said that while he understood Israel’s concern for “secure frontiers” he was not certain exactly what frontiers the Israelis wanted to secure.

He said he could not accept the “extreme explanation” given him by Premier Menachem Begin in which the Israeli leader claimed that the Balfour Declaration established the right of the Jewish people to the entirely of the Palestinian territories under the British Mandate.

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