DRAFT RESOLUTION ON MIDDLE EAST SITUATION REJECTED
Vote on Text by Non-Aligned States
NEW YORK, 27 March (UN Headquarters) -- Voting against efforts to establish a United Nations observer force to protect Palestinian civilians, the United States last night vetoed a draft resolution expressing the Council's readiness to set up such a mechanism.
By the terms of the draft, which received nine votes in favour and one against (United States), with four abstentions (France, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom), the Council would have requested the Secretary-General to consult the parties -- Israel and the Palestinians -- on immediate steps to implement the resolution.
Before introducing the text, Council President Volodomyr Yel'chenko (Ukraine), speaking in his national capacity, said his country would not participate in the vote.
Also by the text, the Council would have expressed its full support for the work of the Fact-Finding Committee established at Sharm el-Sheikh and would have called upon all parties to cooperate fully with it.
In addition, the draft would have had the Council call on the parties to take immediate steps towards the resumption of contacts at all levels on implementation of reciprocal security commitments. The text would have also had the Council call for an end to the closures of the occupied Palestinian territories; full cessation of settlement activities; the transfer by Israel to the Palestinian Authority of all due revenues; and the institution of additional confidence-building measures, including unequivocal public statements supporting all commitments made at Sharm el-Sheikh.
Explaining his country's vote against the draft, the representative of the United States asked why it had been put to the vote now in the absence of a consensus. The draft resolution demonstrated a non-realistic approach by ignoring the basic need to have the agreement of both parties. It was unbalanced and unwise.
He said his country would have supported the text if it had called for an end to incitement and violence, as well as for the implementation of all agreed commitments, including the agreements reached at Sharm el-Sheikh. The Palestinian Authority had never made an unequivocal call, in the Arabic language, for an end To the violence. The road to peace began in the region and the parties themselves must make the choice.
The representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Council's Non-Aligned Movement caucus, said it had engaged in negotiations on a European draft, providing ideas and suggestions aimed at producing a resolution that enjoyed the Council’s broadest support. The caucus also had in mind the Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan, on 27 and 28 March, and had emphasized the necessity for the Council to take action before the conference started.
Noting that the protection of Palestinian civilians was on the Summit’s agenda, he said the Arab leaders had been looking forward to the Council’s mandate for the Secretary-General to start negotiations with the parties concerned. The caucus was frustrated that it had not been possible for the Council to take timely action on the text.
Israel's representative said the resolution reflected a one-sided perspective of the nature of the violence that had occurred over the last six months. His country was disheartened that the resolution appeared to take the Palestinian side, with no mention of Israeli casualties and no condemnation of Palestinian terrorism. Israel remained opposed to an international observer force in the region and reiterate that no negotiations would take place in a climate of violence. The Palestinians must end the violence they had instigated.
The Observer for Palestine said that tonight's negative result meant that the Council had been prevented from following through with its duties in maintaining international peace and security. Palestine had made every possible effort to arrive at a positive conclusion, even at the expense of its own position. Ultimately, it could not give up the legitimate needs of the Palestinian people, including the need for international protection, especially since no alternative text had been tabled. Palestine would be present at a later date to see what could be done in cooperation with the Council members who were ready to work for peace, justice and legitimacy.
Also speaking tonight were the representatives of China, France, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Norway and Ireland.
The draft was sponsored by Bangladesh, Colombia, Jamaica, Mali, Mauritius, Singapore and Tunisia.
The complete text of the draft considered by the Council reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming the need for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973 and reaffirming also all its previous relevant resolutions, including its resolution 1322 (2000) of 7 October 2000,
"Expressing its grave concern at the continuation of the tragic and violent events that have taken place since September 2000, resulting in many deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians,
"Reiterating the need for protection of all civilians as expressed in its resolutions 1265 (1999) and 1296 (2000),
"Expressing its determination to contribute to ending the violence, protecting Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories and promoting dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian sides,
"Expressing its support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process,
"Reiterating the need for Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949,
"Expressing grave concern at the dire economic and humanitarian situation as a result of the closures of the occupied Palestinian territories and towns and villages within them,
"1. Calls for the immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation and collective punishment, as well as the return to the positions and arrangements which existed prior to September 2000;
"2. Calls upon the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to implement promptly and without preconditions the understandings reached at the Summit convened at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, of 17 October 2000;
"3. Urges a resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis taking into account the previous positive developments in the negotiations between the two sides and calls on them to reach a final agreement on all issues, on the basis of their previous agreements, with the objective of implementing its resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973);
"4. Expresses grave concern at recent settlement activities, in particular the recent decision to expand the settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim and calls for full cessation of settlement activities;
"5. Calls on the parties to take the following immediate steps:
"(a) resumption of contacts at all levels on implementation of reciprocal commitments including in the field of security previously made by both sides;
"(b) an end to the closures of the occupied Palestinian territories to permit resumption of full normal activities of daily life;
"(c) the transfer by Israel to the Palestinian Authority of all revenues due, in accordance with the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations of 29 April 1994;
"(d) additional confidence-building measures by both sides including unequivocal public statements in support of all commitments made at Sharm El-Sheikh and of this resolution;
"6. Expresses full support for the work of the Fact-Finding Committee established at Sharm El-Sheikh, calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with it, and looks forward to its report;
"7. Appeals to the international donor community to extend, as rapidly and as generously as possible, economic and financial assistance to the Palestinian people, and stresses in this regard the importance of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;
"8. Requests the Secretary-General to consult the parties on immediate and substantive steps to implement this resolution and to report to the Council within one month of the adoption of this resolution and expresses the readiness of the Council to act upon receipt of the report to set up an appropriate mechanism to protect Palestinian civilians, including through the establishment of a United Nations observer force;
"9. Decides to remains actively seized of the matter."
VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said that since the beginning of the outbreak of violence in the Middle East, Ukraine had stood for appropriate action by the United Nations Security Council. His delegation had been consistently in favour of establishing an observer force to protect the Palestinian civilians. However, its practical implementation would be impossible without the cooperation of Israel.
His delegation was concerned with the current matter under consideration, he said. The different positions of Council members were well known, but not insurmountable. He commended delegations for their work to find the agreed points of the current resolution. He did not believe that tonight’s vote, without the necessary unanimity, would achieve the set goals or send a positive signal to the people of the region. Therefore, Ukraine would not take part in the vote.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement caucus in the Council, submitted the draft resolution on behalf of his own country, as well as Colombia, Jamaica, Mali, Mauritius, Singapore and Tunisia.
He recalled that on 7 October last year, the Council had adopted resolution 1322 (2000), calling for a cessation of violence and condemning the use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians. In December, the caucus had proposed to send a United Nations observer force to the region so that the violence could be contained and the safety and security of Palestinian civilians ensured. But it had proved impossible for the Council to adopt the text.
Subsequently, he said, during the Council’s open debate on the issue, the need for an international observer force had emerged as the single most important point made by delegations. Following the debate, the Non-Aligned Movement caucus of the Council had decided to revive its own draft resolution and to submit a text with the appropriate adjustments, made available to the Council on 23 March.
The caucus had been anxious to work on that text in consultation with other Council members, he said. In good faith, the caucus had engaged in negotiations on a European draft, providing ideas and suggestions and aimed at producing a draft that enjoyed the Council’s broadest support. The caucus also had in mind the Arab Summit in Amman, Jordan, on 27 and 28 March, emphasizing the necessity for the Council to act on the proposed text before its start.
He said the protection of Palestinian civilians was on the Summit’s agenda and that the Arab leaders had been looking to the Council’s mandate for the Secretary-General to start negotiations with the parties concerned. The Non-Aligned Movement caucus of the Council was frustrated that it had not been possible to take action on the text.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said the new round of violent conflict had lasted over half a year. It had caused a large number of casualties, especially on the Palestinian side. If the violence was not checked, it would perpetuate more serious confrontation and conflict. That was detrimental to the security of the entire region. Palestine and Israel should put an end to the violence and conflict, and the peace process should continue.
The Security Council, he said, should play an important role in safeguarding peace in the Middle East. China was of the view that an international presence in the region would be important in establishing mutual trust and favourable conditions for both sides to return to talks. The draft resolution had demonstrated the concern of the international community with regard to the question of Palestine. China supported the draft proposed by the Non-Aligned Movement.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Council then took action on the draft resolution, which received nine votes in favour, one against (United States) and four abstentions (France, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom). One delegation (Ukraine) did not participate in the vote.
Statements after Vote
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States), expressing great regret, said the draft resolution should not have been put to the vote at the present time. The United States had opposed it as a matter of deeply held principle. Why had the vote been taken now when no consensus had been produced and after members had repeatedly supported the need for such a consensus over the last week? he wondered. There should have been a consensus no matter the difficulty in achieving it.
He said the resolution sought to prescribe to the Secretary-General the way forward in the search for peace in the Middle East. It demonstrated a non-realistic approach by ignoring the basic need to have the agreement of both parties. The draft resolution was unbalanced and unwise. The Council should have called for an end of violence and protection for all civilians, he added.
The United States would have supported the text if it had called for an end to incitement and violence, as well as for the implementation of all agreed commitments, including those reached at Sharm el-Sheikh. He noted that the Palestinian Authority had never made an unequivocal call, speaking in Arabic, for an end to the violence. The road to peace began in the region and the parties themselves must make the choice, he said.
He said the countries that had abstained in the November vote had been able to forestall a premature action and had acted out of similar motives tonight. The Council could not be allowed to make a decision that would be damaging to the peace process. A United States abstention would have been irresponsible and it was troubling that Council members, recognizing the danger presented by the resolution, had not join in opposing it. Now that the resolution was behind the Council, attention should be turned to ways to search for a genuine peace, the blessings of which had been denied to the people of the Middle East for far too long.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the 15 members of the Security Council had worked in a constructive spirit on a very difficult issue. Because there was no current mediation and because the cycle of violence was escaping control, all members of the Council shared the conviction that the United Nations must act concerning the situation in the Middle East. It did this through the actions of the Secretary-General, but the Secretary-General could not take action without a clear mandate from the Council. Furthermore, the Council could not make its voice heard unless it had come together. It was in this spirit that the four European Members had worked over the past several days.
The draft resolution was substantial and balanced, he said. If it were adopted, it would give the Secretary-General a clear perspective of the road to be followed. At present, the draft, despite almost unanimous support, did not have the necessary support for effective action. The four European members had decided to abstain, despite the great merits of the draft. That vote did not change France’s policy on the Middle East.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his country had made several proposals over the past week in the search for a solution to that most difficult of issues. It was regrettable that the Council had voted on the resolution now, especially with the knowledge that one permanent Council member could not concur. The failure of the Council’s efforts tonight could not reduce the tension in the Middle East.
Expressing disagreement with the act of seeking a vote this evening, he said his country had, therefore, abstained together with its European partners. The United Kingdom agreed with the need for a mechanism to protect civilians, but that required the agreement of both parties. It condemned the violence on both sides. The United Kingdom’s position would remain the same and the Council’s work on seeking success would continue, despite today’s failure.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation noted with regret that the situation in the Palestinian territories was gradually deteriorating. The conflict was growing and costing more lives every day. Serious efforts had been made in recent days to find an agreed reaction to the situation in the occupied territories. Council members were very close to that, and it appeared that the achievement of consensus was possible. Unfortunately, it was impossible to reach a generally agreed upon text.
The Security Council, he said, could not divorce itself from the tragic events in the West Bank and Gaza. The Russian Federation voted for the draft resolution tabled by the Non-Alignment Movement caucus. It was important to resume the negotiation process in order to satisfy the legitimate needs of both parties. In a broader sphere, the Russian Federation would continue to make every effort for a speedy resolution to the conflict.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway), expressing satisfaction at the Non-Aligned Movement's willingness to participate in a serious discussion in the search for a draft supported by the greatest number of Council members, said the resolution was not, nevertheless, what his country had hoped it would be. Norway had hoped for the greatest support for the Secretary-General at the Amman Summit and for others involved in the difficult search for peace.
Expressing regret that it had not happened, he said Norway had abstained because it did not believe the resolution would enable the peace process to get back on track at the present time. Although the Council had not reached its common goal at present, hope must not be lost for success at a later stage.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said his delegation was deeply concerned with the worsening conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories. It had worked with other members on a resolution that would have included a range of confidence-building measures and the setting up of an observer force.
Ireland, he said, abstained on the draft resolution because the agreement of both parties was necessary in order for the United Nations to deploy an observer force. Without a mutual agreement in place, no Member State could be requested to provide the necessary personnel. The peace process needed the support of the entire international community. The alternative draft resolution, which was sponsored by the four European members and Ukraine, could address those issues. Ireland was interested in using its position to work constructively with other Council members and the parties in the region.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said the resolution reflected a one-sided perspective of the nature of the violence that had occurred over the last six months. The killing of a 10-month-old girl in Hebron by a shooter equipped with a sniperscope available only to Palestinian security forces had been a reminder that the sword of violence cut both ways. In addition, Jerusalem had suffered two bombings. The Council's failure to condemn that violence was a great disservice to its mandate and to those whose lives had been taken by the enemies of peace.
He said his country was disheartened that the resolution appeared to take the Palestinian side, with no mention of Israeli casualties and no condemnation of Palestinian terrorism. It had not called on Chairman Yasser Arafat to renounce the use of violence for political aims. Must Israel continue to shoulder all blame, as well as responsibility?
Israel remained opposed to an international observer force in the region, he emphasized. Mr. Arafat had decided to undertake that protection by himself. Once he returned to the negotiating table and decided to reinvigorate the search for peace, Israel would take whatever reciprocal steps were necessary. No negotiations would take place in a climate of violence, he reiterated. The Palestinians must end the violence they had instigated.
M. NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said the Security Council had arrived at a negative result today. That failure meant that the Council was prevented from following through with its duties in maintaining international peace and security. It meant failure to contribute to putting an end to the tragedy of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. It also meant failure to provide the necessary support to bringing life back to what was left of the Middle East peace process. The regrettable result came despite the continuous work of all delegations throughout the past period.
His delegation had resumed its efforts lately to achieve the objective of an observer force, which would provide protection to the Palestinian people, he said. Realizing that that would be impossible due to the negative United States position, the Europeans had moved in with a view to giving the process a push forward. His delegation had cooperated with the European States, the United States and other members of the Security Council to put an end to the current bloodshed. During that period, members had been close to an agreement more than once. Despite that, it soon became clear that all of the work would evaporate.
There had been an effort, he said, to delay the tabling of a draft resolution without a definite time or date. At that point, his delegation decided that it was unlikely to continue in an endless effort in light of a situation that was deteriorating every day. Added to that was the convening of the Arab Summit in Amman, Jordan. Palestine had made every possible effort to arrive at a positive conclusion, even at the expense of its own position. It would not give up on requesting the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities in accordance with the United Nations Charter and would continue to encourage the efforts of the Secretary-General.
* * * * *