COUNCIL HEARS RENEWED CALLS FOR IMPLEMENTATION
In View of Israeli "Disregard" of its Demands,
NEW YORK, 9 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning concluded its most recent debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, with speakers expressing their deep concern at the continuing escalation of violence in the region and calling for immediate implementation of the Council’s recent resolutions on the situation.
As the Council continued a discussion convened yesterday afternoon in response to a request made by the representative of Tunisia (on behalf of the Arab Group), speakers asserted that the Council’s credibility was at stake and called for it to take strong action, including the possible dispatch of an international monitoring force to the region. Great concern was also expressed about the humanitarian situation resulting from the recent actions, including the inability of humanitarian personnel to reach those in need.
Spain’s representative, speaking for the European Union and associated States, said resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) must be implemented immediately. He deeply regretted that they continued to be ignored, in particular, the demands for an immediate cessation of violence, a meaningful and effective ceasefire, and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops. There must also be an immediate end to Chairman Arafat’s isolation and lack of freedom of movement. For their part, the Palestinian Authority and its Chairman must make every effort to stop the violence, dismantle all terrorist organizations, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and ensure that those responsible for the recent brutal terrorist attacks against Israelis did not remain unpunished. The Union was extremely concerned at the humanitarian disaster affecting the Palestinian population, he added.
Cuba’s representative said massacres continued to take place and repression continued to exist. The credibility of the Council was in the balance. The situation could no longer continue without the adoption of deep and credible measures by the Council. Specific and effective actions -- without half-measures -- must be taken, including the immediate dispatch of an impartial international force mandated by the Council to achieve a ceasefire and to demand the effective withdrawal of the Israeli army. State terrorism must be brought to an end. All the human rights of the Palestinian people, not just some of them, must be respected.
Morocco’s representative said the Arab world had held out the hand of peace in Beirut at the recent Arab League Summit. To continue the escalation of violence was to jeopardize the future, he stressed. The Arab States wanted peace and were prepared to live alongside the Israeli State. The hand that had been held out must be grasped -- a dialogue with Mr. Arafat, the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, must be undertaken.
The terrain must be cleared for a just, lasting and comprehensive solution in the Middle East, where all parties could live side by side and in assured security, the representative of Turkey said. To that end, Israel should address the heightened grievances of the Palestinian people and choose to become a more forthcoming partner in fulfilling their legitimate rights. The Palestinian side must respond positively and fully to the calls for a ceasefire. It should do that credibly and show its determination to resolutely fight terrorist elements.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Algeria, Iraq, Canada, Oman, Ecuador, Sudan, Pakistan, Libya, Iran, Malaysia, Jordan, India, Yemen, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Indonesia and Philippines.
The Permanent Observer for Palestine and the representative of Israel, who had addressed the Council yesterday, both took the floor again at the end of the debate.
The meeting, which was suspended last night at 6:40 p.m., was resumed this morning at 10:47 a.m. and adjourned at 2:03 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to continue its debate on the situation in the Middle East. That meeting, begun yesterday, was convened following a letter to the Council President from the Permanent Representative of Tunisia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group for April, requesting "an immediate meeting" of the Council to consider "the continued escalation of the Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, in total disregard of the resolutions of the Security Council, in particular, resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002)" (document S/2002/359).
The letter, dated 6 April, refers in particular to the "criminal actions committed by the Israeli occupation forces in the refugee camps in the cities of Jenin and Nablus", and follows an extraordinary meeting of the Arab Ministers for Foreign Affairs held on Saturday, 6 April, in Cairo. Also according to the document, the Arab Group requests the Council to consider the adoption of the "necessary immediate measures" to ensure an end to the current tragic situation and the implementation of the above-mentioned resolutions.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the subjugated people under foreign occupation trusted in the Council to make law prevail. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians were suffering from the arbitrary attacks of an army of occupation. It was as if adopting resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) had freed the army of any constraints. They had killed dozens of unarmed civilians, destroyed houses and infrastructure. Mr. Sharon’s Government had interpreted the resolutions as providing it with the authority to continue its actions. How arrogant the Israeli leadership was. However, brutal force would never break the spirit nor weaken the faith of Palestinians.
The exemplary and heroic resistance of people whose childhood had been stolen and were reduced to fighting with stones had been vilified, he said. Was this not a policy of terror? Was there a double standard -- were there good freedom fighters and bad freedom fighters? The Council could not allow its authority to be flouted. It could not remain passive. Its credibility was at stake, as was the collective security system as a whole. Before the Middle East collapsed into something horrible, the Council must rise to the level of the responsibilities conferred on it by the United Nations Charter. It must protect the vulnerable Palestinians from the "mad and murderous insanity" of the forces of Israeli occupation.
ABDUL MUNIM AL-KADHE (Iraq) said the Council was meeting for the third time in less than 10 days to consider the criminal acts perpetrated by the Zionist entity. Despite the fact that two resolutions had been adopted in that period, the entity continued its ugly terrorist campaign against the Palestinians. It continued to lay siege to the headquarters of President Yasser Arafat and apply pressure on him with a view to killing him and his compatriots. Such actions were war crimes, and the Council was, therefore, called upon to act under Chapter VII and adopt cohesive measures against the Zionist entity. Failure to do so would mean that the Council could not maintain international peace and security as mandated by the Charter. The credibility of the United Nations and its very existence would also be called into question.
He said that, should it be legally possible to apply the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Council should be called upon to establish an ad hoc criminal tribunal to prosecute Israeli war criminals, which would include Ariel Sharon. The Fourth Geneva Convention also needed to be enforced, and the international community should shoulder its responsibility in defence of the Palestinian people. The situation in Palestine would not improve as long as British and United States administrations continued their support for the Zionist entity. Also, while rallying support for that entity, the two administrations had once again raised the threat of a strike against Iraq. That was nothing more than an attempt to sway the world’s attention from crimes by the Zionist entity.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said the Israeli Prime Minister had chosen to defy the whole world -- the Council, its permanent members and the public opinion of the international community. He had turned a deaf ear to all Council appeals, as well as those made by world leaders and the United Nations Secretary-General. For Mr. Sharon, the Israeli army would withdraw when it had accomplished its mission. Did that mean that it would continue its actions, even as it made a mockery of international humanitarian law? he asked. The Arab world had, in Beirut, held out the hand of peace. To continue the escalation of violence was to jeopardize the future. The Arab States wanted peace and were prepared to live alongside the Israeli State.
He said the hand of peace that had been held out must be grasped -- a dialogue with Mr. Arafat, the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, must be undertaken. He would like someone to explain how the Palestinian leader could be locked up, on the one hand, and asked to intervene to stop the hostilities, on the other. Mr. Sharon must begin a dialogue with him. Yasser Arafat had claimed nothing less than justice for his people.
Given the situation, people were demanding that the international community dispatch a body to protect the Palestinian people, he said. He prayed that, at the end of the road, Palestinians and Israelis would live in peace with mutual respect. He hoped the efforts of the United States Secretary of State might succeed as soon as possible. His visit to the region was being looked forward to. The Council was in a position to lend its support to the success of Mr. Powell’s mission. There were legal means in the Charter to ensure that Israel implemented all relevant resolutions.
JUAN LUIS FLORES (Spain) spoke for the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein. He reiterated the Union’s condemnation of the relentless cycle of terror and violence afflicting Israelis and Palestinians. He expressed the Union’s utmost concern at the continuing military operations in the Palestinian territories, the violations of international humanitarian law and the increasing and alarming number of casualties among the civilian population.
Resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403 must be implemented immediately, he said. He deeply regretted that they continued to be ignored, in particular, the demands for an immediate cessation of violence, a meaningful and effective ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops. There must also be an immediate end to Chairman Arafat’s isolation and lack of freedom of movement. The Palestinian Authority and its Chairman must make every effort to stop the violence, dismantle all terrorist organizations, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and ensure that those responsible for the recent brutal terrorist attacks against Israelis did not remain unpunished. The Union was extremely concerned at the humanitarian disaster affecting the Palestinian population. Actions against medical and humanitarian institutions and personnel were absolutely unacceptable.
He stressed the importance of the vision contained in United States President George Bush’s statement of last Thursday and welcomed the mission of Secretary of State Colin Powell to work with the parties to implement the Council’s resolutions. The creation of a Palestinian State, politically and economically viable, security guarantees to the State of Israel, as well as the recent Arab League support for Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s initiative for peace, were among the elements included in the vision the Union had long called for. He urged the parties to accept a third-party monitoring mechanism.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said the Council had charted the way forward in resolutions 1397 (2002), 1404 (2002) and 1403 (2002). Their elements were not conditional, and there could be no justification for continuing to disregard their calls. Their immediate implementation had been called for in all quarters and could be deferred no longer. That was not only a political requirement; it was a humanitarian imperative. Beyond the requirements outlined in the resolutions, he called on Israel to facilitate the access of humanitarian workers and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and ensure that the Palestinian people had full and unhindered access to basic needs, including food, water and medical supplies.
He said that Israel should exercise the utmost restraint in avoiding further civilian casualties. The Palestinian Authority should commit itself to ending all terrorist acts, including suicide bombings, which targeted innocent civilians and were an affront to all. Both parties should move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire. There could be no military solution to the conflict. Continuing on the present course made a peaceful resolution even harder to reach and risked destabilizing the entire region. The escalating tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border and the continuing violations of the "Blue Line" were of serious concern, and he called on all parties to demonstrate maximum restraint.
Canada had consistently affirmed that third-party monitors could serve both parties’ interests in assisting with implementation of a ceasefire agreement, he said. His country welcomed the direct engagement of United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, underlined its urgency, and urged the parties to give him their full cooperation. He also fully supported all efforts, including those of the Quartet (United Nations, United States, Russian Federation, European Union), aimed at achieving a ceasefire and implementation of the Tenet plan, accompanied by the prompt resumption of negotiations towards a political solution and implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations. The Council could help establish a locus and context for the two sides to navigate back from the precipice.
FUAD MUBARAK AL-HINAI (Oman) said that since the adoption of resolution 1397 (2002), the Palestinian people had been subjected to a campaign of murder, siege and starvation by Israeli forces. Despite the adoption of subsequent resolutions requesting the parties, including Israel, to respect the ceasefire and withdraw forces, the Israeli military machine still persisted in killing scores of Palestinian civilians.
Faced with such defiance, persistence and disrespect for resolutions, he asked what measures could be taken by the Council to ensure the implementation of its resolutions. The Council needed to be put to the test now more than before, and prove to the world that it was not bound by double standards. It must force Israel to implement resolution 1402 (2002), which requested it to withdraw from Palestinian territory without delay. He stressed the need for immediate implementation of that resolution.
Yet, despite the incredible pressure being exerted by Israel on the Palestinian people and leadership, the will of those people and their leadership had not been broken, he noted. He believed that the only way to settle the conflict in the Middle East was for both parties to be convinced of the usefulness of peaceful negotiations. He called on the Council and Member States to urge Israel to heed the call of peace and withdraw its forces, and to provide the necessary international protection to the Palestinian people, while restarting the peace process. He also requested the Council to consider the adoption of punitive measures against Israel, making it responsible for all the bloodshed.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) said his Government supported the international community’s appeal for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the immediate cessation of acts of violence on both sides. Convinced that the only way to solve disputes was through peaceful negotiation, he expressed his country’s full support for the recent Council resolutions on the Middle East, which provided the legal and political elements that could bring about the resumption of peace negotiations.
Ecuador recognized the right of Israeli to live within secure borders, as well as the right of the Palestinians to set up their own State, he said. He appealed to both sides to renounce violence, and expressed concern about military operations in places of worship. He emphatically rejected violations of human rights in the region.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said the war crimes perpetrated by Israel, the occupying authority in the occupied Palestinian cities, were indeed one of the worst crimes of genocide taking place before the eyes of the entire world. Events in Jenin reflected the continuing practice of oppression by Israeli forces against innocent civilians. Israel’s continuing defiance of resolutions made it incumbent upon the Council to move immediately to condemn that country for non-compliance with its resolutions. It was also incumbent upon the Council to call on Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
He said any delay and any prevarication in protecting Palestinian civilians would be a failure of the Council under the mandate entrusted to it in the Charter. Support for Israel had led that country to behave as if it were a State above the United Nations. What Israel was doing by pretending to withdraw from certain areas while reoccupying others was a trick that no one could believe. Surely, the Council would not be taken in by such a ruse. The scenes in Jenin and Nablus and the attack against the Nativity Church were criminal attacks that made it essential for the Council to act under Chapter VII of the Charter.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said continued Israeli military action in Palestinian cities was a blatant defiance of the Security Council and a challenge to its legal and moral authority. The enforcement of the Council’s decisions could not be held hostage to the whims of violators of resolutions. It might, therefore, be necessary to move under Chapter VII of the Charter, which addressed action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression.
He said Pakistan opposed violence of all sorts and scales and urged its cessation. It also believed that the immediate stationing of international monitors in the region might be necessary not only to ensure the implementation of a ceasefire, but also to secure an immediate end to the spiralling cycle of violence and the protection of civilians who had been the main victims of such violence in recent weeks and months.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said that disregard by the Government of Israel for everything discussed in the Council over the last days made his delegation very angry. Massacres continued to take place and repression continued to exist. Threats to the physical integrity and dignity of Mr. Arafat also continued, as did arbitrary detentions, mistreatment and humiliation. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens continued to be surrounded by tanks while they were brutally attacked by state-of-the-art helicopters and military equipment. The credibility of the Council was teetering on the balance. The situation could no longer continue without the adoption of deep and credible measures by the Council.
"The disregard of Israel would persist while the alleged mediators continued to keep deceitful and unbalanced stands when they spoke with the parties", he said. It was impossible to accept that somebody might be an honest and credible mediator while playing the role of both judge and party, or when giving unlimited support to all the atrocities committed. The massacres must be brought to an end. Israel must be compelled to respect United Nations resolutions, and to respect the minimum rules of coexistence and behaviour among States.
Specific and effective actions -- without half-measures -- must be taken, including the immediate dispatch of an impartial international force mandated by the Council to achieve compliance with the ceasefire and to demand the effective withdrawal of the Israeli army. State terrorism must be brought to an end. All the human rights of the Palestinian people, not just some of them, must be respected.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said there was no geographic region called the Middle East. The term was an invention that was created in London so that the word Palestine would never be used again. The discussion today was, therefore, not on the Middle East but on Palestine, the occupation of Palestinian territories, the expulsion of Palestinians, their replacement with foreigners, and the problem of occupation. Unless those factors were taken into account, no peace would be permanent -- that was the reality of history. What was taking place in the Palestinian territory would not be solved by calls or resolutions. It required serious action by the Council. How could one tell Palestinians that they had to put a stop to terror when what had to be addressed was the greatest terrorist entity in the world -- Israel’s army? The Palestinians were simply defending their right to live and survive while they were under siege.
Then there were those who said Mr. Arafat had to make more of an effort. What efforts were left for a man who had no power, no food or water? No one could prevent a person from avenging the killing of a mother, brother, father or sister. Did anyone question the legitimacy of General de Gaulle when he was fighting against the occupation of France or George Washington when he was fighting the occupation of the United States? The same yardstick should be applied to Mr. Arafat, who was simply attempting to liberate his country from occupiers.
He said the Arabs were the ones calling for peace, and he underscored that Arabs had proposed all the peace initiatives. Israel, on the other hand, had destroyed peace in three phases -- denial, distortion and liquidation of peace initiatives. That was how Sharon’s Government was approaching the issue. There was no doubt that all Israeli Governments had stood against peace and worked against it. The Government in Israel had never been democratic, since it was a government inherited by one general after another whose main purpose was to wage war.
He asked what the role of the Council was -- if, indeed, it was a security council. A Moroccan woman on an Al-Jazeera channel had recently said, "Down with international resolutions, down with international instruments and down with the Security Council." What had prompted her to say that? She saw that resolutions appeared very rapidly when they concerned Arabs and Muslims, but did not appear so swiftly when they pertained to Israel. The Council had subcontracted out the occupation of Palestine. It now needed to recover part of its credibility. How could it apply Chapter VII to other countries and not use it against those who were killing people, destroying homes, and executing humans on the streets? East Timor had caught the Council’s attention. Why did the killing of Palestinian children not catch that body’s attention, as well? Were the Palestinians and Arabs not humans with rights?
ALTAY CENGIZER (Turkey) noted his delegation’s alignment with the statement made earlier for the European Union. He was deeply disturbed at Israel’s failure to implement the Council’s resolutions. Even after having heard the sentiments of the Council and others yesterday, Israel was not taking the necessary action. Disturbing news of what had taken place in Jenin and other refugee camps continued to reach the international community. The tanks should turn back from all Palestinian cities now, he stressed.
The economic and social life of the Palestinians had been violently upset, he said, expressing his concern at the resultant humanitarian situation. The human rights of the Palestinians were being violated, and the sight of blood in Palestinian cities and refugee camps was unbearable. The terrain must be cleared for a just, lasting and comprehensive solution in the Middle East, where all parties could live side by side and in assured security.
To that end, he said, Israel should address the heightened grievances of the Palestinian people and choose to become a more forthcoming partner in fulfilling their legitimate rights. The Palestinian side must respond positively and fully to the calls for a ceasefire. It should do that credibly and show its determination to resolutely fight terrorist elements. Terrorism could not be glorified, he stressed. Security was the absolute right of Israel. Those who denied that right were the enemies of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. He added that attacks from the Lebanese territories against Israel that violated the Blue Line were aimed at widening the area of conflict, and were in breach of the relevant Council resolutions.
HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) pointed out that Israel was in flagrant breach of two more Security Council resolutions and in defiance of international public opinion, which had expressed outrage at the atrocities committed by heavily armed Israeli troops against defenceless civilians. Israel was engaging a people who had no tanks, helicopters, F-16s or even anti-tank rockets. Those who unleashed an armed-to-the-teeth army against civilians were war criminals, and those who armed and equipped such a reckless army could not shun responsibility, he said.
Israel had never meant to abide by the agreements it had signed with the Palestinians, he went on. While ostensibly committing itself to the so-called land-for-peace arrangement, since 1993, it had never stopped building settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza. The significant increase in the population and lands under unlawful Jewish settlements in those areas over the last nine years, including 34 new ones in the last year, attested to the fact that Israel continued to colonize territory from which it had ostensibly negotiated to withdraw.
He said that after years of foot-dragging, Israel had now dropped the empty pretence of seeking peace. Its army was out to wipe out all Palestinian institutions and destroy the nine-year-old peace process. By invading Palestinian areas and resorting to ruthless tactics, Israel was deliberately setting the stage for more Palestinian resistance. Those aggressive policies also applied to Lebanon, and Iran rejected Israeli allegations, made in the Council, that it had anything to do with the situation along the Blue Line.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia), noting that Israel's partial withdrawal from Tulkarm and Qalqilya might well be temporary or tactical moves to ease the pressure from the Security Council and the international community, said the Council must make it plain that it expected immediate and full withdrawal. Should Israel continue to ignore demands that it comply with resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002), the Council should seriously consider taking appropriate punitive measures against Israel.
He pointed out that the Islamic foreign ministers, meeting in Kuala Lumpur, had called for sanctions against Israel. Any other State that dared to defy the Council would have been severely dealt with. That was the only recourse left to the Council in order to get Israel to abandon its military option for one of negotiation in the interest of a lasting peace in the area. For the sake of the people of Palestine and for its own sake, the Council must act promptly and decisively; it did not have the luxury of time.
Expressing the hope that United States Secretary of State Colin Powell would meet with all the principal actors, he stressed that President Arafat was the acknowledged and elected leader of the Palestinian people. He should be taken seriously as an important, indeed, indispensable, interlocutor in the peace process. It was ironic that Mr. Arafat, who had made such efforts in the search for peace since Madrid and Oslo, was being demonized and sidelined when it was well known that the second intifada had been precipitated by Mr. Sharon's deliberately provocative visit to Al-Aqsa.
Prince ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said the action Israel had undertaken in the occupied territories represented a violation of international humanitarian law. The time had come for the Israeli Government to realize that the military option was not a solution to any crisis. Violence would lead to further violence, as well as to deepening the gap between the two sides. The political option was the only way to move forward.
He called on Israel to implement resolution 1402 (2002), to withdraw from the cities it had occupied, and to commence implementation of the Tenet plan and Mitchell recommendations. He called on the Council to exert its influence and to work on dispatching an international force to the region to protect the Palestinian people.
A. GOPINATHAN (India) said the statement by Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which brought out the grievous situation of civilians in the Balata and Jenin refugee camps, was extremely distressing and spoke for itself. Israel’s military action against innocent civilians would in no way serve its best interests or provide it the security it sought for its people; in fact, the consequences would be to the contrary. There could be no justification for directing violence at innocent civilians.
He said the recent Council resolutions provided a road map for the restoration of normalcy, and called again on the parties to implement them. He reiterated that all restrictions placed on Mr. Arafat, who enjoyed wide support and respect and was the symbol of Palestinian nationhood, should be lifted forthwith to enable him to play his rightful role. Another cause of serious concern was the continued violations of the Blue Line, which further exacerbated the situation in the region. The violations should be brought to an end immediately and the sanctity of the Blue Line must be respected.
The situation in the Middle East was frighteningly grave, he stressed. He urged the Council to work assiduously with the parties to bring an immediate end to the violence that had engulfed the region -- and that could have very far-reaching consequences.
ABDALLA SALEH AL-ASHTAL (Yemen) said it had today become clear that Israel’s claim that its military offensive was a war against terrorism was a deceitful one. The evidence was seen in Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns and cities, its barbaric demolition of homes, its shutting off of water and electricity, and shooting at media who were trying to give an honest picture of what was actually taking place. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, also had the audacity to claim, on the dead bodies of Palestinian children, that he wanted peace. How could Israel be allowed to continue its barbaric actions? How after all of this could Sharon claim that he wanted to return to peace negotiations? Go back to what and with whom?
He said Israelis had interpreted Council inaction as an inability to check their country’s aggression. The policy of appeasement, which the British had used to try and contain the Nazis in Eastern Europe, was failing today. He called on the Council to do more than simply implement its resolutions, but also to commit Israel to respecting legal agreements made with the Palestinian people. Yemen called for the application of Chapter VII of the Charter if Israel persisted with its present behaviour. His country also requested the dispatch of an international peacekeeping force to the Palestinian territory.
MAHFOUDH OULD DEDDACH (Mauritania) said the meeting was additional proof of the fact that international resolutions, such as Council resolutions 1402 and 1403, must be implemented. It was regrettable that the Council should be holding consecutive meetings to reaffirm and insist on resolutions that it had previously adopted. Refusal to implement the Council’s decisions and the consequent humanitarian situation called for immediate intervention to protect the defenceless Palestinians. That would be a test of the Council’s credibility.
The Council should call for the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and demand that humanitarian workers not be impeded from reaching the Palestinian people. He stressed his delegation’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its leader, Mr. Arafat.
ABDULLAH KHAMIS AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said the Israeli Government had deliberately ignored its legal commitments and other appeals calling on it to end gross violation of Palestinian human rights. Television stations and world news agencies yesterday carried statements by Ariel Sharon in which he publicly declared his intention to continue his bloody invasion of Palestinian cities and territories. What had been revealed was the real Israeli intention –- to eradicate the Oslo Agreements, reach the point of no return and not go back to the negotiating table. The laxity of the Council and its failure to speedily address the recent grave developments was one of the factors encouraging Israel to continuing humiliating Palestinians, including their leader, Yasser Arafat.
He called on the Council to take action under Chapter VII, and to take the necessary measures to guarantee compliance by the Israeli Government with resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). He also called on certain Council members to give up their policy of double standards, which was allowing Israel to threaten peace and security in the Middle East region. That country must be pressured to end its ugly war crimes and all its hostilities against Palestinians. He also called for the urgent dispatch of an international observer force to the Palestinian territory. He urged the Council to distinguish between the legitimate rights of Palestinians to self-defence and terrorism.
HOUSSAM ASAAD DIAB (Lebanon) said that in resolution 1402 the Council had requested Israel to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories. The Israeli response had been an escalation of its acts of aggression against the Palestinian people. Less than a week later, the Council had adopted resolution 1403 calling on Israel to implement its previous resolution without delay. While the members of the Council understood that the phrase without delay meant immediate withdrawal, Mr. Sharon had had his own interpretation of the phrase, in clear defiance of the Council’s call. The Council must put an end to Israeli disregard.
The aggression against defenceless Palestinians was escalating, he said. Medical and humanitarian personnel were being prevented from reaching them, in violation of international humanitarian law. Despite the media blackout, it had become clear that Israeli actions in many Palestinian towns and territories were war crimes.
Responding to statements made yesterday, he said resolution 425 and 426 had been adopted against Israel in view of its invasion of Lebanese territory. The Government of Lebanon had reaffirmed its respect for the Blue Line and declared its intention not to open a new front. Lebanese forces had detained some elements which had been out of control and had committed certain incidents near the border. Lebanon reserved its right to liberate its territory with all possible means.
He said Lebanon had made a formal apology for the tragic event to which four of the international force personnel had been exposed in southern Lebanon. All responsible would be referred to Lebanese justice for legal prosecution. The party that should be considered responsible for the escalation of violence was Israel. It had violated the sovereignty of Lebanon repeatedly. It had even bombed some liberated villages in southern Lebanon.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea), expressing deep concern about the continuing escalation of violence, said his country was particularly distressed by the humanitarian situation and urged all parties to respect international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians, as well as the safety of international humanitarian workers. The Republic of Korea had firmly opposed any form of violence, which could not be a solution to the current situation in the region.
Only through political dialogue and negotiations could the two parties achieve lasting peace in the Middle East, he stressed. The Republic of Korea unreservedly supported Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002), calling for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities. It also welcomed the Tenet plan and the Mitchell report recommendations, which should be put into practice promptly.
Expressing the hope that the visit by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell would lead to an immediate ceasefire and meaningful negotiations, he also commended the ongoing efforts by the "Quartet" of international envoys. The peace process between Israel and Palestine was of critical importance to the peace and stability of the Middle East region, as well as the works as a whole, he emphasized. The potential expansion of the conflict to other areas was a matter of grave concern, particularly the eruption of violence along the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said it was well known that a ceasefire and calm should be accompanied by a political process that would fulfil Palestinian aspirations for a State and Israeli desire for security. Left to their own devices, Israel and Palestine did not appear to have the will to find a negotiated political settlement. Resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) must be implemented and Israel must immediately withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza. If that was not possible, the Council must take appropriate measures to ensure that the two resolutions were implemented.
T.M. HAMZAH THAYEB (Indonesia) said the Council’s primary responsibility -- as mandated by the United Nations Charter -– was to maintain international peace and security. Therefore, it must remain steadfast, by insisting on the full and swift implementation of its resolutions. The fact that they remained unimplemented was the cause of profound concern to him, as more and more innocent civilians continued to be killed and maimed each passing day, because of the expanding military aggression by the occupying Power.
Moreover, he said, it was appalling and beyond comprehension when thousands of innocent civilians were denied the most basic necessities of food and medical supplies as they and their leader remained under siege. Such intolerable action was unjustifiable. It brought to the forefront the question of the accountability and credibility of the Council’s actions regarding the less grievous circumstances of other questions on its agenda. The Council must seize the opportunity and discharge its mandate on the situation in the Middle East. That should entail the urgent deployment of an international security force to protect civilians and bring peace and normalcy to the region.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said his delegation's participation in today's debate was to demonstrate its commitment to the pursuit of a just peace. The international community had declared and exhibited its readiness to assist in reaching a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and security in the Middle East region. His delegation welcomed the window of opportunity for sustained and lasting peace offered by the proposal for a third-party monitoring mechanism.
He said yesterday's debate clearly indicated the international community's support for such a mechanism. His delegation hoped that the next Council resolution on the Middle East would establish the practical measures needed to effect the immediate ceasefire that had been called for and set the stage for a lasting and durable peace.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said he wished to comment on certain statements made during the preceding debate. He cited the "irresponsible" remarks made yesterday by the Observer for Palestine, who had referred to Israel’s statement at the outset of the debate in derogatory terms. He was reminded of the situation when the Observer had used irresponsible language in a 9 January letter to the Council in response to Israel’s seizure of weapons bound for the Palestinian territories. He had written that the Israeli story defied logic and any common sense -– no sane person could imagine that quantity of weapons being smuggled into Gaza. All now knew that responsibility for the weapons rose to the highest echelons of the Palestinian Authority. Clearly, the allegations were not quite as absurd as the Observer for Palestine would have had it.
He noted that Israel had come into possession of documentary evidence that terrorism had been supported by the Palestinian authority. He would be sending a letter to the Secretary-General to that effect. Chairman Arafat’s duplicity had led him to arrest terrorists one day and release them through his revolving door the next. That situation must be resolved if Israel was to believe that the Palestinian leadership would conduct negotiations in good faith.
He then turned to statements made by other speakers. He had been dismayed by the one-sided statement made yesterday by the representative of Mauritius. According to that statement, it appeared that there was one party that was totally guilty and one totally innocent. He noted that Israeli troops had withdrawn from certain Palestinian cities, while there was no indication of Palestinian willingness to implement their obligations under resolution 1402.
Regarding the assertions made that most of those killed had been Palestinian civilians -- he wondered at the source of that information. Such a claim could be made only if one considered armed Palestinians as civilians. Israeli soldiers were under strict orders to avoid harming civilians. He completely rejected statements that made an analogy between Israeli acts and those of the Nazis. Among the victims of the Palestinian suicide bombers were survivors of the Holocaust, he noted.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, said that yesterday Israel’s Permanent Representative expressed objections about the tone and content of his statement and voiced his regret at the use of terms such as "silly" and "stupid". Israel’s representative had gone on to say that he believed that debates in the Council should be conducted in the parliamentary manner and that the terms "silly" and "stupid" were not in the parliamentary manner.
Mr. Al-Kidwa said that after the meeting yesterday several ambassadors asked him why he had described the Israeli Ambassador as "silly and stupid" or why he had described the statement as "silly and stupid". Today, the Council had heard another statement from Israel’s representative describing the Palestinian statement as irresponsible, derogatory and having no class. Although that criticism was relatively minor, it was just another example of the way in which many Israeli officials conducted their business. They took something out of context, created a lie, then waged a campaign (which might possibly work) based upon that lie.
Clarifying what he had said yesterday, Mr. Al-Kidwa said that "we listened to the statement by the Israeli representative, which was an absurd and unfortunate one, and an attack on Yasser Arafat that contained silly, stupid and unsubstantiated allegations". The "silly" and "stupid" were not directed at one person, but at unsubstantiated allegations that had one aim -- to undermine the Palestinian Authority and its President.
Mr. Al-Kidwa said that Israel’s representative proceeded today to speak of a letter "we sent regarding another unsubstantiated allegation on smuggled arms on a ship". He categorically stated that the Palestinian Authority and President Arafat had no involvement whatsoever with that story. What had been noted, however, was the presence of a Palestinian captain and the involvement of some Palestinians. "As such, we recognize that there is a certain degree of responsibility that needs to be carried out and investigations will take place", he said. He was convinced, however, that the Israeli story made no sense and he stood behind the letter of the Palestinian Authority to the Secretary-General and the President of the Council. No such shipment was possible. After the Israeli savagery in the last 10 days, no rifles were used against the invaders, which proved that everything that Israel had said about Palestinian smuggling of weapons was just a lie.
He said that Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian cities was taking place while its forces remained around those cities, maintaining a solid and hermetic closure. In the meanwhile, reoccupation continued in other places while Israeli forces were escalating their attacks in Jenin and Nablus.
He said Israel’s representative had accused many speakers of committing a great sin by daring to compare the Holocaust to what his country’s troops were doing today. Mr. Al-Kidwa said he had not stated that what was being committed against the Palestinians was tantamount to holocaust. What he said was that current events in Palestinian cities recalled what happened in European cities during the Nazi occupation. What the Israeli army was doing was no different from what the Nazi forces did in many European cities. That was a terrible fact that needed to be faced by the Israeli people. Facing it meant correcting, and could lead possibly to peaceful coexistence by both sides.
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