Thirty-Six Speakers Address Security Council in Day-Long Middle East Debate, Stressing Need for Urgent Action to Resolve Ongoing Crisis
Importance of Compliance with Council Resolutions, Proposed International Peace Conference, Monitoring Force among Issues Raised
NEW YORK, 13 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council met today to take up the situation in the Middle East, with 36 speakers taking the floor to discuss ways of resolving the region's ongoing crisis, including the possibility of holding an international peace conference.
Speaking at the outset of the meeting, the Permanent Observer for Palestine said Israel had recently reoccupied Ramallah and imposed a military curfew on Yasser Arafat's headquarters. Since 28 September 2000, Israel had committed great atrocities against the Palestinian people, including war crimes and State-sponsored acts of terrorism. How could the Council allow the situation to continue, and when would its resolutions be implemented? he asked.
He called on the Council to condemn the Israeli practices and reject destruction of the outcome of the Oslo accords; work to implement relevant Council resolutions; and push towards a comprehensive rapprochement. The Council should take the required measures immediately. He would wait and see what would materialize over the next few days.
Israel's representative, speaking next, said that while Israel had abided by resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002); the Palestinian Authority had yet to do so. Instead, it deflected attention by making false accusations. Today, the scrutiny of Israel continued, while Israeli forces had discovered clear proof of the Palestinian Authority's support of terrorist activity, including explosives laboratories for suicide bombers. That showed the unfortunate necessity of pre-emptive action by the Israeli security forces.
Under the circumstances, he asked what the international community expected of Israel, when those who were supposed to be controlling terror were fomenting it. Nevertheless, Israel still hoped for peace and had restrained itself time and again. All provisions of resolution 1402 (2002) must be implemented, he stressed. In the absence of that, the proper conditions for a return to a political process did not exist. Terrorism must cease, or all other efforts would be in vain.
[Council resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) call for both parties to move immediately towards a meaningful ceasefire; the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities; and full cooperation to implement the Tenet plan as a first step towards implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations.]
As the debate continued, speakers underlined the need for urgent action to resolve the crisis. The importance of complying with the Council's resolutions and other international agreements by both parties was stressed, with many speakers asserting that the Council must shoulder its responsibilities in ensuring a peaceful outcome. The possibility of holding an international peace conference on the situation was raised, as was deploying an international monitoring force to the region.
The representative of Spain, speaking for the European Union and associated States, said peace and security would only be achieved through negotiations, which should start as soon as possible. As a member of the Quartet -- with the United States, Russian Federation and the United Nations -- the European Union was working towards convening an international peace conference involving the parties and international and regional players. The conference would be aimed at achieving concrete results on the political, security and economic aspects of the situation.
Egypt's representative said the international community must create the appropriate climate for reaching a final and comprehensive settlement, through confidence-building measures that included ending Israel's subversive, repressive and violent activities. The Palestinians should be assured of an independent State, with equal security for both that State and Israel, in conformity with Council resolution 242 (1967), the Madrid Conference and the Arab initiative expressed at the Beirut conference. Temporary or interim agreements, which merely maintained the status quo, were not acceptable.
The representative of Bahrain, for the Arab Group, said the Council should shoulder its responsibilities and put an end to violence against the Palestinians. Since Israel continued its actions, which included war crimes and State terror, it was incumbent upon the Council to act immediately.
Indonesia's representative underlined the responsibility of the international community, and specifically the Council, to put an end to the illegal Israeli occupation and to protect the lives of innocent civilians. It was imperative to deploy an international security force to protect the civilians and restore normalcy to "these war-torn territories".
Statements were also made by the representatives of Norway, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Morocco, Ireland, Russian Federation, South Africa (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Tunisia, Mauritius, United States, Jordan, Sudan, Guinea, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Japan, Cuba, Mexico, Singapore, Pakistan, Iraq, France, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Colombia, Cameroon and Syria.
The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke.
The meeting was called to order at 11:40 a.m. and suspended at 1:25 p.m. It resumed at 4:48 p.m. and adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The Council had before it a letter dated 11 June from the Permanent Representative of Bahrain, in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group, requesting the meeting be convened in light of the extremely grave and deteriorating situation in the region (see document S/2002/655).
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, said Israel had recently reoccupied Ramallah and imposed a military curfew on Yasser Arafat's headquarters. They had assaulted the headquarters with tanks and two people had been killed. All along, the Israeli forces had maintained a tight siege against other Palestinian cities and had reoccupied some of them. Israel had tried at a feverish pace to institutionalize the heinous situation emanating from the military assault against the Palestinian people, including by isolating Palestinian areas from each other. The colonization of Palestinian land continued unabated. More and more settlements were being built.
Israel had committed since 28 September 2000 great atrocities against the Palestinian people, including war crimes and State-sponsored acts of terrorism, he said. He was awaiting the report of the Secretary-General on Jenin and other areas. He called upon the international community and the Security Council to condemn all the Israeli actions and take steps to stop them. Israel had openly rejected the relevant Council resolutions and had shown contempt for them. How could the Council allow the situation to continue and when would its resolutions be implemented? he asked.
Israel claimed that its actions were to pre-empt suicide bombings, which had been condemned time and again by his people, he said. The main purpose of the Israel actions was to, among others, take the situation back to before the Oslo accords, destroy the Palestinian Authority and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had succeeded in aborting the Mitchell recommendations. He now insisted on the non-existence of a Palestinian partner and stressed there could be no negotiations until there were changes made by the Palestinian side.
Genuine State institutions would be impossible to build under occupation, he said. Mr. Sharon's aim was to increase chaos. The international community should stop him from repressing all chances for peace. He noted a 9 June article in The New York Times by Mr. Sharon.
Mr. Sharon was implicated in committing war crimes, he said. He was assuming "with high efficiency" the role of "enemy of peace". He must be stopped. Comprehensive rapprochement addressing all aspects of the problem was needed. More important was the development of a clear definition of the final form of a solution -- the emergence of a State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, with the 1967 borders and security for Israel. That would create a new dynamism permitting all other aspects of the situation on the ground to be addressed. In the absence of such a vision, conditions might continue to deteriorate.
He called on the Council to: condemn the Israel practices and reject destruction of the outcome of the Oslo accords; work to implement relevant Council resolutions; and push towards comprehensive rapprochement. The Council should take the required measures immediately. He would wait and see what would materialize over the next few days.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said that between 3 March and 4 April, the two resolutions adopted by the Council, 1402 and 1403, reiterated a call for a meaningful ceasefire in the Middle East. Israel withdrew its troops, negotiated an end to the stand-off in Bethlehem, and took other measures to allow the Palestinian Authority to adhere to such a ceasefire and to implement the Tenet work plan. Those obligations had yet to be fulfilled, however. Not a day had passed without Palestinian attempts to attack Israeli civilians. When they failed, it was due to Israeli preventative actions, which had saved countless innocent lives. Terrorists must be thwarted before they reached civilian targets.
He described the attacks of 5 June, 27 May, 23 May, 27 April and others, which, he said, had caused massive death, including those of infants. Many times it was the forces of Chairman Arafat who were directly responsible; other times it was other groups who had been allowed to act freely by the Palestinian Authority. On other occasions, the terror had emanated from third party countries such as Syria, where Islamic Jihad was based and which sponsored Hezbollah. Its sponsorship of terrorism showed Syria's contempt for a peaceful solution, as did its occupation of Lebanon and its massacres of its own people. Syria must immediately halt its support for terrorism groups and abide by all Security Council resolutions.
While Israel had abided by resolutions 1402 and 1403, he said, the Palestinian Authority had yet to do so, deflecting attention by making false accusations. Today, similarly, the scrutiny of Israel continued, while Israeli forces had discovered clear proof of the Palestinian Authority's support of terrorist activity, including explosive laboratories for suicide bombers. That showed the unfortunate necessity of pre-emptive action by the Israel security forces. Hamas and Islamic Jihad should have been dismantled by Chairman Arafat; instead, he had accepted them as legitimate political partners. Mr. Arafat was caught in a duality of being both a terrorist and a statesman.
Under the circumstances, he asked what the international community expected of Israel -- when those who were supposed to be controlling terror were still fomenting it. Nevertheless, he said, Israel still hoped for peace and had restrained itself time and again. All provisions of resolution 1402 must be implemented. In the absence of that, the proper conditions for a return to a political process did not exist. Terrorism must cease or all other efforts would be in vain.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain), for the Arab Group, said the Israeli forces continued to storm the areas of the Palestinian Authority, to occupy cities and villages and to kill innocent civilians. A few days ago, the Israeli forces had reoccupied Ramallah and had shelled President Arafat's compound, endangering President Arafat's life. The occupation forces had destroyed the Palestinian Authority's infrastructure and had left many homeless. Such events had become routine. The Council should shoulder its responsibilities and put an end to such acts against the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Sharon wished to erode the Palestinian Authority, he said. He noted the non-compliance by Israel with the relevant Council resolutions. Since Israel continued its actions, including war crimes and State terror, it was incumbent upon the Council to act immediately. It could request the Israeli Government to implement its texts and condemn recent Israel attempts to destroy the Palestinian Authority.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that closures and ever-tighter restrictions were making it impossible to revive the Palestinian economy, to rebuild Palestinian institutions and to implement the necessary reforms within the Palestinian Authority. They were also hampering the effective functioning of the Palestinian security apparatus, which was essential in combating terrorism. New plans related to the movement of people and goods in the Palestinian area, and aimed at addressing Israeli security concerns, would neither solve the conflict nor lead to improved security.
He said the implementation of tighter measures would further destroy the Palestinian society and economy; accelerate the severe economic downturn of the Palestinian economy, which was already close to collapse; complicate and prevent the prompt delivery of basic and urgent goods; hamper the effective delivery of services by the Palestinian Authority, further burdening the donor community; and contribute to widening the distrust between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The main elements of an eventual final settlement must have, as a point of departure, the final status negotiations held in Taba in January 2001, the peace plan of the Arab League Summit and Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), he said. Convening an international peace conference could be one, among several, steps in the process ahead. It must be well prepared and have realistic goals, focusing on political, economic and security issues.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that his country would support the statement by Spain on behalf of the European Union. The violence in the Middle East was being generated by a vicious cycle of terrorism and overly forceful response. He condemned the deadly Palestinian suicide bombings, which had sadly become routine and were counterproductive to the creation of a Palestinian State. The Palestinian Authority could not be a partner in peace if the Israeli population lacked security.
However, Israeli responses should be carefully measured and targeted. The Palestinian Authority should be strengthened, not destroyed, in order for it to become a partner in the peace process. He supported measures to return both parties to the negotiating table, including the efforts by Xavier Solana and George Tenet, the Quartet, the Security Council and others. The parties, however, must help the international community to help them. Bulgaria supported democratic elections in the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority and the holding of a high-level conference on the subject, towards a two-State solution. To that end, it remained in contact with both parties.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the use of armed force to break the will of the Palestinian resistance to the occupation would not work. The occupation was the core of the problem and Israel's withdrawal was the only solution. Attempts to stall negotiation of that solution were of no avail, and Security Council resolutions reinforced that fact. The occupied territories were not "disputed territories", as reaffirmed by resolution 242 (1967). Security could not be achieved through repression and continued occupation. Genuine security could only be achieved through good-neighbourliness and justice.
In addition, he said, only the Palestinian people themselves should choose their leaders. The international community must create the appropriate climate for reaching a final and comprehensive settlement, through confidence-building measures that included ending Israel's subversive, repressive and violent activities. The Palestinians should be assured of an independent State, with equal security for both that State and Israel, in conformity with resolution 242 (1967), the Madrid Conference and the Arab initiative expressed at the Beirut conference. Temporary or interim agreements, which merely maintained the status quo, were not acceptable. Economic support for the Palestinians should be provided and all acts of aggression must stop. The peace process must move forward to give hope to the Palestinian people.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) condemned recent Israeli actions, saying that they had not enhanced security for Israel, but had only served to provoke violent retaliation from Palestinian militant groups. Israel's lack of military restraint, amid international efforts to convene a peace conference, reflected its commitment to a military, rather than a political, solution. It was clear to all, including Israelis, that the eventual establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine was the key to solving the conflict. To continue to deny that inevitability through policies and actions resulting in more deaths, destruction, hatred and militancy between the two sides was incomprehensible.
He continued to believe that what was immediately necessary to prevent a worsening of the situation on the ground was the dispatch of a United Nations or international peacekeeping or monitoring force to the occupied Palestinian territories. Given the sense of utter frustration and despair among the Palestinians, Israel's continued use of force would only serve to increase their militancy. To defuse the anger that had been building up over the past two years, the Palestinian people must be given renewed hope and a vision for peace, with a definite timetable for an independent State.
Pending a final solution, he added, the concern of the international community must continue to be on the dire humanitarian situation on the ground, which continued to deteriorate and could worsen as a result of Israel's construction of a 68-mile buffer zone near Jenin, Tulkarm and other cities. The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had warned that those buffer zones would very seriously hamper the operations of humanitarian agencies, or even cause them to come to a halt.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said the Council met against the backdrop of fast-moving events generating increased concern and fear in the international community regarding the future of the region and its peoples. The Israeli forces had reoccupied Palestinian territories and had created a sense of frustration and desperation. The daily tragedies in the region were linked to the reality of the occupation imposed by Israel in gross breach of international humanitarian law.
The Israeli Government had persisted in a pattern of behaviour aimed at undermining the Palestinian Authority and torpedoing the establishment of a Palestinian State, he said. The Council must move seriously to impose respect for its resolutions. Israel's security would not be obtained by undermining the Palestinian Authority, which should be respected. Urgent assistance from the international community was needed to rebuild the Palestinian economy and infrastructure.
The Palestinian Authority, he noted, had taken steps to condemn terrorism and had undertaken reform measures. Putting an end to terror required ending the occupation by Israel and the resumption of the peace process. Morocco would cooperate with all to create the necessary conditions for an international conference on the situation in the region.
The meeting suspended at 1:25 p.m.
When the meeting resumed at 4:40 p.m., RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), associating himself with the statement made by the representative of Spain on behalf of the European Union, said manifest injustice, instability, insecurity and a frozen political landscape posed an unacceptable threat to the region and to international peace and security. Not to act now would be a dereliction of duty by the international community. No solution would be found through terrorism or any other form of violence, or through military action. He called for: an immediate end to Israeli military occupation; full implementation of resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002); an end to all forms of terrorism; support for reform by the Palestinian Authority; an end to the harassment of the presidential compound in Ramallah; the early convening of an international conference; and support of the efforts of the Quartet and regional actors towards a peaceful solution.
Acts of terrorism were not only wrong in themselves, but brought great suffering on the Palestinian people and did not advance the achievement of their legitimate aspirations, he said. The Government of Israel had every right to defend its citizens against terrorism, but must do so in accord with international humanitarian law. The violence and destruction carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces at the Palestinian presidential compound were counterproductive. It made no sense to call on the Palestinian Authority to take measures to combat terrorism, while, at the same time, destroying the means necessary to implement such measures.
He said it was absolutely clear that the parties could not now reach a settlement on their own. The time had come to convene an international conference. The aimlessness and drift that had taken hold must be shaken loose. There was no room for delay or for preconditions. The three problems identified by the Secretary-General -- occupation, violence and economic misery -- had to be addressed urgently and in parallel. The blueprints were there in abundance, such as the Saudi initiative, Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1977) and 1397 (2002), the recent proposals of the President of Egypt and statements of vision by regional and international leaders. In effect, a virtual consensus had emerged in the international community.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his country was extremely concerned that the parties in the Middle East struggle get out of their vicious cycle of confrontation. For that purpose, the Russian Federation maintained continuous contact with both parties and supported a resolution through negotiation, including a high-level international conference. The Security Council should be used to help find a way back to negotiation, and not used as a forum for mutual recrimination.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said a ministerial delegation of the Movement had visited President Arafat on 2 June and had reiterated the Movement's outrage at the intensification of the illegal Israeli occupation, as well as its support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Now that the Movement had actually seen for itself the situation on the ground, its sense of urgency was even greater. Something would have to be done about restarting peace negotiations, or the world would risk a regional conflagration with potentially devastating consequences.
He said the Israeli army had once more attacked the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, directly endangering the life of President Arafat. The Israeli army believed that by maintaining a siege of the Palestinian territories, the international community would be fooled into believing that the situation was improving. In practice, Israel had carved the occupied territories up into a series of "bantustans". The ongoing military incursions and blockades served only to deepen the humanitarian crisis and inevitably generated further frustration, desperation and violence. The time had come for Israel to acknowledge that the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for self determination could not be thwarted by military might.
He failed to see how the Palestinian Authority could be expected to implement effective reforms and to establish conditions of calm and security if the Council did nothing to prevent the wholesale destruction of Palestine's government institutions. He, therefore, called on the Council to take immediate action to ensure full compliance with its resolutions, particularly with resolution 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). Even more important was that the Council should consider visiting Palestine, speak to people on the ground and assess the situation for itself. Otherwise, the world would conclude that the Council remained idle whilst Israel pursued a hopeless task of trying to guarantee its security by perpetrating illegal acts of collective punishment against a civilian population.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said events in the Palestinian territory must be seen as an issue of occupation, one that required a political solution and the dispatch of a neutral international third party. It was the last situation of occupation before the international community, with the occupier rejecting international will and agreements. The principal cause of the impasse was the inability of the Council to deter the occupier and compel it to respect international agreements. The occupying Power continued to challenge all international norms, while the Council remained without the political will to resolve the situation.
In the absence of a political vision to solve the question of Palestine, the international community could expect the Palestinians to reject occupation, he said. He noted the article run by the head of the Israeli Government in a United States paper over the weekend, which demonstrated that Israel had no intention of "lifting the political curtain" on the situation. He supported the holding of an international peace conference with the aim of helping realize the vision of two independent States living in security. A third-party force, he added, could help put an end to the "impasse of action and reaction".
PAPA LOUIS FALL, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that in recent days it had become all the more clear that Israel, under Mr. Sharon, was intent on destroying the Palestinian Authority, the framework of the peace process and the resumption of a meaningful dialogue for peace in the region. The new Palestinian cabinet had been unable to meet for the past three days due to the actions of Israel. The extrajudicial detention and killings of civilians continued, as did the illegal settlement activities. It appeared that an attempt to renegotiate Council resolutions, including resolution 242 (1967), was under way.
The actions of Israel were unacceptable and should be condemned by the international community and the Council, he said. Negotiations had to take place between the parties, but they could not start from zero and could not be hijacked by the occupying Power that had the military upper hand and wanted to dictate the terms. There was a clear outline of the final settlement, consisting of Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), as well as other resolutions and decisions of representative organs of the international community.
The international community had agreed that a State of Palestine had to be established and coexist in peace with the State of Israel. Mere visions of that desired outcome were not sufficient. The suffering of the Palestinian people should not be allowed to last much longer. Those visions had to become a reality as a matter of urgency, and the Council had a historic responsibility to clear the way and oversee the process to that end. The Committee looked forward to prompt and decisive action.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said it seemed that, like the cycle of violence in the Middle East, the Council was being dragged into a logic of action and reaction without being able to do anything concrete to end the violence and bring a lasting solution. While the Council had even adopted what could be called important resolutions, each one of them had remained dead letter and completely ignored. The question was, could the Council continue in that logic without being able to ensure that its resolutions and recommendations were fully enforced? Or, was it time to stop being reactive and seriously address the root cause of the problem?
He did not mean to undermine what was currently taking place in the Palestinian occupied territory or in Israel. The situation was indeed serious, he said. He condemned the latest incursions by Israeli forces into Ramallah. His delegation equally condemned the attack perpetrated on Israeli civilians by the suicide bombers. Such actions on both sides were counterproductive and would only make the resumption of dialogue between the two parties more difficult. Mauritius was extremely sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, who were subjected to atrocities of all kinds during the incursions.
Peace could not be achieved in the Middle East until there was genuine commitment by the parties involved to take forward the various initiatives recently proposed, he continued. The international community also had an important role to play to bring both sides together. On the Palestinian side, Chairman Arafat's announcement to undertake major reforms within the Authority and to hold presidential elections next year was a major step forward. He welcomed such an effort and urged the international community to give its full support to enable Chairman Arafat to make these reforms concrete. He urged Prime Minister Sharon to reciprocate and to take concrete action on the ground to demonstrate his willingness to make peace. Automatic retaliations involving Israeli forces after each terrorist attack would not help the ongoing peace process, nor would the continuation of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
As regards the international community, while he supported the efforts of Washington and the Quartet, it was essential that their combined efforts were aimed at bringing the hope that the Palestinian people could have a homeland of their own. It was important that the international community focus its efforts on such an outcome. It was equally important that the international community help rebuild the Palestinian infrastructure, which had been almost completely destroyed. The Middle East Peace Conference should seriously consider the proposal of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah endorsed by the Arab leaders at the Beirut Summit.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said he was deeply troubled by the daily toll that the violence in the Middle East was taking on both sides. It was essential that both parties consider the repercussions of their actions and speak clearly to their people to reduce the violence, as called for in resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002). Describing the casualties of Palestinian attacks against Israelis, he said that safe haven for those who support or commit terrorist acts must end. Last week, the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a bus bombing, which was an act of terror that must be brought to justice.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he said, must do all they can to end such violence. Israel must abide by its responsibilities in resolution 1405 (2002), including allowing humanitarian aid to reach those who need it. He called on both parties to build on the momentum for peace generated by President Bush and other members of his administration. Intensive discussion should move those parties back to the negotiating table. The three-part strategy of the United States aims for a peace that must include two States, Israel and Palestine, living in security within recognized borders. The international community must do and say only the kind of things that lead to that goal.
ZEID RA'AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that the resumption of the peace track and Israel's implementation of relevant Council resolutions, respecting the Palestinian leadership and working with it, were the guarantees of peace and security for Israel. That could never be achieved through a war of aggression or by committing war crimes against the Palestinian people, including attempts to forcefully transfer the population outside the occupied territories by intensifying the military and economic blockade there.
Furthermore, he continued, combating the suicide bombings could not be achieved by destroying the security apparatus of the Palestinian National Authority. He pointed out that Israel's military operations in the occupied Palestinian territories had failed to end such bombings. Thus, it should explore the option of ending its military operations and returning to the negotiating table.
He called on the Council to assume its responsibilities vis-à-vis Israel's refusal to fulfil its obligations under the relevant Council resolutions. Also, he encouraged the Quartet to take effective measures against the imposition of a de facto situation, which would write off the peace process in the region. As a first step, those who were actively involved in the peace process should set a timetable for the creation of a Palestinian State on the territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said the international community had assisted at dozens of meetings in the past few months on the same question. Nothing changed -- there was just further insistence by Israel on violating the decisions of international legitimacy and continuing its policies of occupying Palestinian land. Every day new acts of aggression were committed. The world stood by and watched the injustice meted out to the Palestinian people -- there was "a true crisis of conscience". He noted the Council's inability to shoulder its responsibility with regard to Israel. After 35 years, the international community had not seen the implementation of resolution 242 (1967).
The issue was one of occupation, he said. How could one speak of the right of self-defence against an oppressed and occupied people? he asked. The military option would never gain the peace Israel hoped for. Security would come only with justice. Innocent blood had been shed on both sides; the responsibility lay with the Israeli Government, the occupying Power. The time had come for the Council to act for peace and let the world know that no country was above the law.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein, said it was clear the highly volatile situation in the Middle East would not be resolved through the current mindset of the leaders of both parties. Peace and security would only be achieved through negotiations, which should start as soon as possible. The Quartet would meet tomorrow in Washington, D.C., and later at the margins of the Group of 8 Summit in Canada. As a member of the Quartet, the European Union was working towards convening an international peace conference involving the parties and international and regional players.
He said the Union condemned in the strongest possible terms the latest terror attacks in Israel, which were morally repugnant, contrary to international law and extremely harmful to the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. The perpetrators of those criminal acts must be brought to justice. Israeli forces continue to move freely throughout the Palestinian-controlled territory, arresting and killing suspected militants. The West Bank was in fact divided into several disconnected population centres. That situation was totally unacceptable and an outright violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Israel must immediately cease those policies.
He said the Union welcomed and encouraged the current discussion of political, security and financial reforms in the Palestinian Authority. He called on Israel to foster an environment conducive to reform, particularly by easing restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods. Any attempt to make the reform of the Palestinian institutions an exclusive condition for re-engaging in political negotiations is totally counterproductive and unrealistic.
He reiterated his concern at the dramatic humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, aggravated by the continuing restrictions imposed by Israel on freedom of movement of humanitarian organizations. He noted with concern efforts to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement of diplomatic and consular representatives through security checks and considered them violations of the Vienna Convention. Any effort to assist the Palestinians in reconstruction, reform or elections would need serious and full cooperation of Israel, in particular, through providing guarantees that the fruit of reconstruction efforts would not be damaged or destroyed again. In that regard, the Union reserved the right to claim reparation in the appropriate forums, he said.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said that, faced with the resurgence of reciprocal vengeance in the Middle East, the Council must take responsibility to avoid a devastating war or the destabilization of the region. The international community must make the parties understand that suspicion and hatred could not lead to peace, and must explore new, more bold and innovative ways to extricate them from the whirlwind. In that context, he encouraged the efforts undertaken by the Quartet, the Group of 8 and the other influential actors in the international community to bring the protagonists to reason and create a climate conducive to negotiations towards a just and lasting peace.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), supporting the statement of Spain on behalf of the European Union, said it was imperative to break the cycle of violence in the Middle East. For that to happen, both parties must implement relevant Security Council resolutions, leading to the two-State solution spelled out in resolution 1397 (2002). He supported an international conference dealing with all aspects of the crisis simultaneously and described the United Kingdom's diplomatic initiatives in that regard.
The Palestinian Authority must do more to counter terrorism and implement reform. He welcomed recent moves in that regard. However, such reform and security activity could not progress without similar progress towards a negotiated solution. In addition, continued settlement construction made it seem like Israel was not serious about land for peace. Incursions into Palestinian-controlled territories must stop, even if the withdrawal from Ramallah was welcome.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. AL-OTAIBI (Kuwait) said it was unfortunate that repeated violations and inhuman practices by the Israelis continued, despite the efforts of the international community. He strongly condemned the arbitrary practices of the Israeli forces, particularly the recent reoccupation of Palestinian towns. Israel had sent a strong message to the international community that they would not adhere to the agreements they had made with the Palestinians.
He called on the Council to take practical and rapid decisions to force Israel to respect its resolutions and to work to make the Israeli Government respect the agreements it had signed. He also called on the Council to consider sending a monitoring force to the region. He welcomed efforts made by the Arab States to coordinate with the Quartet to find a formula to bring about a just and comprehensive peace. He supported all efforts made to prepare for holding a peace conference in the Middle East.
YUKIO SATOH (Japan) noted that Japan's Foreign Minister had visited Israel and the Palestinian territories this month, where she had called upon the leaders of both sides to stop the violence. He said that to advance the peace process it was important to defuse the deep mistrust between the parties. To that end, it was essential for the international community to extend its support. Japan was ready to provide assistance to the Palestinians corresponding to the progress of the peace process, including assistance for the reform of the Palestinian Authority, which was now under way. Japan was also prepared to provide a venue where a broad range of Israelis and Palestinians would be able to discuss ways of peaceful coexistence and the vision of a future Palestinian State.
He welcomed and supported the efforts of the United States to resolve the conflict. Most important though was for the parties to the conflict to exert the utmost self-restraint and take the necessary political decisions. With that recognition, he called upon the leaders of both parties to make every possible effort to resume their dialogue.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said that Israel's open defiance of Security Council resolutions was explained by the fact that a permanent member of the Council was blocking action. He commended efforts to reform the Council to redress that situation and the visit of the Non-Aligned Movement to Chairman Arafat's headquarters. Peace in the Middle East would not be achieved until Israel's occupation and its other violations ended. In the meantime, an international force should be dispatched to stem the human rights abuses. The international community must rise to its responsibilities and act.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said a just and lasting peace was a prerequisite for the end to the violence. He conveyed sympathy to Israel for the innocent victims of attacks, while asserting the justice of Palestinian claims. The occupation was the underlying cause of violence in the region. However, suicide terrorist attacks, which horrified everyone, showed a lack of reasonableness and hatred, as did Israel's retaliation, which was equally ineffective. Israel had every right to enjoy secure borders, but its tactics were counterproductive. The activity of the international community must be intensified, to mediate a continuation of negotiation. He urged the Quartet to work harder towards those ends and towards two States within secure borders.
The Council, he said, must demand compliance with its resolutions and develop new actions to create a climate for peace. Mexico was concerned about Israel's distancing itself from international frameworks, such as Oslo and resolution 242 (1967). It had, instead, set itself towards destroying the Palestinian Authority and building new settlements. The Palestinian humanitarian situation was also of great concern. He supported an international conference, but the political will of the parties needed to be strengthened, and Mexico would not support any solution imposed unilaterally.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said the best way to address the situation was through the implementation of existing Security Council resolutions. Non-implementation weakened the Council's authority, including its ability to ensure the full compliance with its other resolutions. Similarly, international assistance was urgently needed to strengthen and reform the Palestinian Authority, particularly its security structures, to help it take action against acts of terror.
Singapore looked forward to a positive outcome from the tomorrow's meeting of the "Quartet" in Washington, which would hopefully further the preparations for an international conference, he said. The conference should build on existing peace arrangements and understandings reached between the parties, including the negotiations at Camp David in 2000, the subsequent discussions at Taba and the Arab League peace initiative. It was important that the conference build on a framework that addressed security, peace and economic distress in parallel.
Stressing that there was no military solution to the conflict, he said there would be no real improvement in the situation except by giving both the Israeli and Palestinian people hope. Public opinion in both societies was being radicalized by events on the ground. While hope remained that a credible peace could swing such public opinion around, the longer it took for a political process to take root, the more entrenched extremist public opinion would become. It was, therefore, more urgent than ever to move beyond crisis-management to crisis-solving.
MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said it had become habitual for Israel during the past few months to undertake repeated incursions and aggression at will into the occupied territories. Backed by military might, Israel had continued its dangerous and destructive course in utter disregard for the prospects for peace. It was, therefore, time to end Israel's military adventure and initiate negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.
Implementation of resolutions 1402 (2002), 1403 (2002) and 1397 (2002) were critical to the realization of peace in the region, he said. He underlined the responsibility of the international community, and specifically the Council, to put an end to the illegal Israeli occupation and to protect the lives of innocent civilians. It was imperative to deploy an international security force to protect the civilians as a matter of urgency and to restore normalcy to "these war-torn territories".
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), recalling that Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) had been agreed following Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's proposal and the Arab League's Beirut Declaration, emphasized the need to establish timelines for the implementation of Council resolutions. But, instead, the prospects for peace in the Holy Land had once again been crushed under the tracks of Israeli tanks, he added.
Condemning Israel's latest military incursion into Ramallah and the continuing encirclement of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's headquarters, he described those actions, as well as raids into Tulkarm, Bethlehem and Jenin, as serious breaches of its legal obligations and responsibilities as an occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 and violations of Council resolution 1402 (2002).
The goal in the Holy Land was to find a final settlement, not to impose a final solution, he emphasized. The people of Israel, no doubt, appreciated that distinction. Peace could not be durable if it was imposed through the barrel of a gun. One could not achieve durable peace by eliminating one's interlocutor or by installing an interlocutor of one's own choice. Peace could not come with one side, literally, calling the shots, he added.
MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said that since the 1948 tragedy, the question of Palestine had been central to his country's policies in the international realm, as it was a question of colonialism and foreign occupation. The Council must achieve a fair solution by adopting bold and even-handed resolutions that were commensurate with the gravity of events. Follow-up must also take place. There was a lack of fairness in the Council's treatment of the Palestinians, contrary to the provisions of the Charter. World Zionism, in collaboration with the United States, prevented the Council and the United Nations system from fulfilling their mandates.
He wondered how most members of the Council could keep clear consciences while gross violations of the human rights of an entire people had been taking place for so many months through the State terrorism of the Sharon Government. The situation was intolerable, he said, and must come to an end forthwith. The Council must face up to its responsibilities. He called on the Council to stand up for the Palestinian people's fight for its rights and against brutal aggression.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the Israelis and the Palestinians were now locked into a perverse logic with continued bloodshed every day and non-compliance with the recent Council resolutions. The impasse was leading the region into the abyss. Israel's actions against the Palestinians, including the reoccupation of Ramallah and impediments to the movements of people and goods, were illegal and counterproductive. The same could be said of settlement activities. The fight against terrorism must be undertaken in compliance with international law.
Certain Palestinian groups were following a blind and unacceptable terrorist logic, he said. France had vigorously condemned the recent attacks, which no cause could justify. He noted the Palestinian Authority's condemnation of the attacks. The Authority must take all steps to prevent and end the attacks. The reforms it had announced were a step in the right direction. The Palestinians must be in a position to put in place the framework of their future State. The international community must support the reconstruction and reform efforts -- which would also be in the interest of Israel.
The international community must help the parties out of their current vicious circle, he said. Security and humanitarian imperatives must be urgently reconciled. He noted the international consensus on the specific shape of a resolution to the conflict, but also the distance that remained from its actual implementation. It was time to define the road map that would lead from a vision of peace to its realization. An international peace conference could be a particularly useful tool to achieve that. The Council must continue to make its contribution, he stressed.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that recently the Israeli forces had carried out massive military operations in the occupied territories, resulting in great loss of life. The acts of the Israeli side had violated the relevant Council resolutions, and he condemned them. He noted the recent suicide bombings carried out against Israel, which he also condemned. The recent evolution of the conflict showed that the international community's efforts could not slacken for one second.
The relevant resolutions and the principle of land for peace must be implemented in earnest, especially resolution 1397 (2002). The State of Palestine should be established at an early date, and Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories. Violent suicide attacks against civilians should be stopped. Easing of tension required assistance from a third party. The Council should assume its responsibilities under the Charter. China would make all efforts to help achieve peace.
HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said he shared the rest of the world's conviction that the occupation of the Arab lands -- whether Palestinian, Syrian or Lebanese -- by the Israelis lay at the heart of the crisis and conflict in the Middle East. He regretted that the Council had not yet discharged its Charter responsibility over the Palestinian question, despite so many appeals to it over the years. He also regretted the Council's failure to take firm action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter to stop the Israelis from continual flouting of its resolutions.
He said that, in light of what had happened recently in the occupied territories, the United Nations must use all the necessary means to force Israel to comply with the demands of the world community. The Council should take effective measures with a view to stopping for good the Israeli aggression. With that objective in mind, the establishment of an international protection force in the occupied territories was all the more necessary. It was also essential that those who had ordered and actually committed war crimes against civilians in the occupied territories be brought to justice.
FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said that Israel contradicted the trend of decolonization of the recent past, resulting in the continued suffering of the Palestinian people. The Saudi peace proposal, of returning to pre-1967 borders and the creation of Palestinian State, would redress the situation. However, Israel kept reoccupying Palestinian territory and increasing Palestinian suffering.
The Israeli Prime Minister, he said, admitted in an article that he had no peace plans. Instead, he would continue to isolate and destroy the Palestinians. Israel's contempt for United Nations resolutions resulted from the lack of implementation of such resolutions. The continuing violence was, in turn, due to the fact that the international community had ignored Israel's rejection of such resolutions. The brutal occupation of Arab lands must end, so that peace could come about.
UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) aligned his country with the statement of Spain on behalf of the European Union. He condemned terrorism; it could not be a political tool. Coercion was terrorism's treacherous twin. Only a negotiated settlement, resulting in a democratic Palestinian State alongside Israel, would bring peace and security to the region. Likewise, full implementation of Council resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) were prerequisites for such a peace, along with other Council resolutions, as well as the principles of Oslo and Madrid. He supported the efforts of the Quartet and other initiatives that aimed towards a negotiated settlement. In that context, he welcomed the formation of a new Palestinian cabinet and further reform guided by transparency and good governance.
ANDRÉS FRANCO (Colombia) said neither Israel's security concerns nor the political aspirations of the Palestinians could be secured by violence. Israel's military action had not halted terrorist attacks, which, in turn, had led to the erosion of the Palestinian Authority. He rejected terrorist attacks carried out by extremists. At the same time, he rejected the excessive use of force by Israel and its reoccupation of territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
He said resolution 1402 (2002) had called for the two parties to immediately implement a genuine ceasefire and a withdrawal by the Israeli forces. Those actions had not occurred. The efforts of the Council and other actors had been designed to stop the violence and terror and to start creating conditions for the parties to return to the negotiating table. Non-compliance with Council decisions compromised its authority and credibility. He supported the work of the Quartet as it searched for a just and lasting solution. The security, humanitarian and political fronts must all be worked on simultaneously, he stressed.
IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said the situation in the Middle East remained serious and dramatic. He shared concerns expressed by all who had spoken. Suicide bombings took place almost every day. The police operations by Israel were becoming more systematic. He deplored the deaths on both sides and noted that the fragile progress of the peace process had been jeopardized. Where had all the peace initiatives gone? What had become of all the Council resolutions? He noted the provisions of the Arab peace initiative put forward at the Beirut Summit.
He had noted the path explored by the United States to seek peace. The efforts of the Quartet also deserved full support and they must be continued. The peace conference envisioned must be a success. He called for a just and lasting solution to the conflict. The Council must assume its responsibilities and enhance ongoing efforts. The parties must engage in mutual negotiations and put an end to the violence.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that Israel had regularly defied Security Council resolutions, resulting in the worsening of the situation of the Palestinian people. The Israelis had continued assassinations, the killing of civilians and the strangulation of its towns. It had committed crimes against humanity in many towns in the occupied territories. In addition, most Palestinians were living under the poverty line and soon that number would reach more than 80 per cent. It was a humanitarian tragedy that must be stopped immediately. But, despite those facts, Israel continued its false allegations. The responsibility for violence fell on Israel, which had displaced Palestinians and tried to silence their voices, despite their suffering, and which had continued its occupation.
While speaking about peace, he said, Israel had shirked the requirements of peace. Citing Prime Minister Sharon's recent article, he said the Prime Minister had insulted the international community and contradicted the principles of land for peace. Today, Israel's representative had again presented lies against Syria, in whom the international community had shown confidence. Those lies were meant to cover up Israel's responsibility. All Syria wanted was to end the occupation of Arab territory, as required by United Nations resolutions. Saudi Arabia had come up with an initiative for a just and lasting settlement. The international community must have Israel abide by Council resolutions.
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