WASHINGTON (Feb. 9)
The State Department, in its annual report on the human rights situation throughout the world, charges that Israel’s human rights problems have been “exuberated” by its settlement policies in Judaea and Samaria.
“Relations with Arabs in the occupied territories — the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights — caused the most significant human rights problems for Israel in 1982,” the Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1982 said: “These relations were strained and the human rights problems exacerbated as a consequence of the (Israeli) government’s implementation of its declared policy of expanding and developing Jewish settlements.”
However, Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, in explaining the 1,323-page report, covering 162 countries, said yesterday that the Israeli settlements were not a violation of human rights “per se.” Instead, he said the Reagan Administration considers them an “obstacle” to the peace process.
NO CHANGES SEEN
The report, which was presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee January 31 and made public yesterday, predicts no change in the situation on the West Bank.
“Absent dramatic progress in the peace process, confrontation between the inhabitants of the territories and the occupation authorities is likely to remain at the same level as in recent years,” the report concludes.
“Israel is likely to continue its efforts to contain and reshape the politics of the West Bank and Gaza through the acquisition of land for settlement, official subsidization of population growth in existing settlements and political support for the Village Leagues.”
The report labels the Leagues as “rural-based quasi-political organizations” through which it charges Israel wants to “transfer patronage and authority from elected and established Palestinian nationalist leaders whom Israel objects to as being supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
The report devotes 21 page; to Israel, 12 of which cover the occupied territories. Abrams stressed that the length devoted to a country has no relation to the human rights problem there but reflects the availability of information.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN ISRAEL AND TERRITORIES
Abrams pointed out that the report differentiates between the situation in Israel, which is a full democracy, and the West Bank and Gaza, which is under military occupation. He said the residents of the occupied territories do not have control of their government but added that there are “a number of military governments, included in the Middle East which are a good deal harsher” than Israel.
The report expresses concern for the same 5,400 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel as a result of its invasion of Lebanon. Abrams said the U.S. hopes that many of them can be released and that those the Israelis plan to bring to trial have their trials soon.
SITUATION IN LEBANON
The human rights situation in Lebanon deteriorated during 1982 because of the thousands of persons killed as a result of Israel’s invasion, Abrams said, but he added that no one knew the exact number of fatalities.
The report said that the Lebanese government estimates that 19,800 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, were killed since last June, the majority during Israel’s siege of west Beirut. The report notes that dozens died as a result of terrorist bombings and assassinations, “the most serious” of which was the bombing assassination of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel, “Dozens, perhaps hundred, of civilians were killed in 1982 in clashes between militia forces elsewhere in Lebanon, ” the report adds.
At the same time, the report displays the same ambiguous attitude toward Israel’s “Peace for Galilee” operation as has the Administration since last June. Israel’s invasion “dramatically altered the situation” which “clashes among Lebanese militias, Syrian forces in Lebanon and the PLO created wide spread abuses of human rights, ” the report said.
“PLO and Syrian influence was eliminated in Beirut and south Lebanon, but Israeli action also led the abuses. In addition to violations by the Israelis in areas under their control, the Lebanese government itself was responsible for serious abuses as it reasserted its control over west Beirut.”
The report added that the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the restoration of the Lebanese government’s authority over its territory should lead to “an improvement in the human rights situation.”
(Tomorrow: Situation In Other Countries)