Austrian Delegate to U.N. Rights Panel Lashes out at Conditions in Territories

While most Arab states have toned down their traditional criticism of Israel during this year’s annual session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, Austria’s delegate has continued to lash out at Israel for violating Palestinian human rights in the administered territories.

In a harshly worded speech that even surprised other delegates here, Austrian delegate Helmut Boeck reaffirmed that the “measures, actions and violation of human rights constituted and still constitute serious obstacles to the efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

He reiterated what he said was Austria’s constant condemnation of “the failure of Israel to acknowledge the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention” to the territories and its censure of “the deportation of Palestinians.”

A similar note was sounded by the Syrian delegate, who voiced hope that the panel would condemn what he described as Israel’s constant violation of human rights in disregard of international law.

A more moderate tone was struck by the Chinese delegate, Jim Yongjian, who said, “The international community and the commission should carry on their active efforts to push both sides in the direction of peaceful settlement. Meanwhile, the sovereignties and security of all the Middle East countries, including Israel, must be respected and guaranteed.”

The U.S. delegate, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, expressed American’s “full satisfaction” with the ongoing regional peace process, noting that “genuine progress was being made” between Arabs and Israelis.”

She called on the commission to pass a resolution stating that a just and comprehensive settlement of the Middle East conflict is vital for the full implementation of human rights in the region.

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