Palestinians had the right to be angry, to oppose what was happening to them and to "take to the streets of their besieged towns and villages to express their collective rejection of Israeli actions", the Permanent Observer of Palestine said this morning, as the General Assembly opened its tenth emergency special session to consider illegal Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and occupied Palestinian territory.
Palestinians had the right to demand an immediate halt to such Israeli policies and actions, and in the case of non-compliance, to demand from the international community the imposition of punishment, he added. Those who spoke of instigation to explain the reactions of the Palestinian people and who called the collective expressions against Israeli actions Palestinian violence, either did not comprehend or had intentions that bordered on racism and hatred, he said.
Under the terms of 1950 General Assembly resolution 377 (V), an emergency special session can be called if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security "in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression". Today's session, requested by the Arab Group and supported by a majority of Member States, was convened following a series of Council and Assembly meetings concerning Israel's decision to build Har Homa, a 6,500 unit housing project, in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area of East Jerusalem. On two occasions the Council failed to adopt a draft resolution that would have expressed deep concern about the decision and would have called on Israel to refrain from such settlement activities.
The representative of Israel said this morning that the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians over the building of a new neighbourhood in Jerusalem, and any other dispute that might arise between them, could not be
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considered, by any stretch of imagination, a "threat to international peace and security". The decision to build did not violate any of the agreements with the Palestinians, according to which, pending conclusion of the permanent status negotiations, the Palestinian Authority did not have any standing in Jerusalem. The core of the peace process was direct negotiations, he said.
The representative of Senegal, speaking as Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said mutual recognition of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and subsequent developments had shown that peace in the Middle East, though difficult and extremely fragile, was possible, and that serious negotiations between committed leaders could result in agreement, even on thorny and apparently unsolvable issues.
The President of the Assembly, Razali Ismail (Malaysia) said the session was not being conducted with rancour or acrimony, but in an effort to eliminate tension and to protect and save the peace process at a crucial juncture. The meetings today and tomorrow underscored the important role of the Assembly and its concomitant responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Also this morning, the emergency special session appointed its Credentials Committee, which consisted of those members who served during the fifty-first regular session of the Assembly. They were: China, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Netherlands, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone and the United States.
Statements were also made by the representatives Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Lebanon.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its discussion.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning in its tenth emergency special session to discuss "illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian territory".
Today's session follows a series of Security Council and Assembly meetings regarding the Israeli decision to build Har Homa, a 6,500 unit housing project, in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area of East Jerusalem.
On 7 March, following two days of debate during which 49 speakers addressed the Council and the Government of Israel was criticized for its decision, the Council, by a vote of 14 in favour to 1 against (United States), failed to adopt a draft resolution that would have expressed deep concern about the decision and would have called on Israel to refrain from such settlement activities.
Following the Council's failure to adopt the resolution, an urgent session of the Assembly was requested by the Group of Arab States and States members of the Non-Aligned Movement. On 13 March, the Assembly adopted a resolution by which it expressed concern at the Israeli decision to initiate new settlement activities in East Jerusalem and called on it to refrain from all such actions, which altered the facts on the ground, pre-empted the final status negotiations in Jerusalem and had negative implications for the Middle East peace process. That resolution was adopted by a vote of 130 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands).
On 21 March, the Council again met to consider the issue. By a vote of 13 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 1 abstention (Costa Rica), it failed to adopt a draft resolution on the issue.
An emergency special session of the Assembly is held under the 1950 General Assembly resolution 377 (V), entitled "Uniting for peace". Under that resolution, the Assembly resolved that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, "in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression", the General Assembly shall continue the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the Members for collective measures. Those measures include, in the case of breach of the peace or act of aggression, "the use of armed force when necessary", to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Procedures for holding today's meeting were set in motion following a letter to the Secretary-General dated 31 March in which the Permanent Representative of Qatar, in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group of
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States, requested an emergency special session on the item (A/ES-10/1). In accordance with rule 9(b) of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General transmitted the text of the letter to Member States requesting them to inform him whether they concurred with the request of the Arab Group. As required by the rules of procedure, a majority of Member States have concurred with that request.
Over the course of its existence, the Assembly has held emergency special sessions on questions related to Suez (1956), Hungary (1956), Lebanon (1958), Congo (1960), Middle East (1967), Afghanistan (1980), Namibia (1981) and the Occupied Arab Territories (1982). In 1980, the Assembly convened an emergency special session on the question of Palestine. That meeting was suspended and resumed four times in 1982, before it was again suspended.
Also this morning, the Assembly was scheduled to appoint members of the Credentials Committee for the session.
Statement by General Assembly President
RAZALI ISMAIL (Malaysia), President of the General Assembly, said the emergency special session reflected the conviction of the membership that there existed an increasingly grave situation involving peace and security. In the past two months, the Security Council had twice held extensive discussions, and the General Assembly once, on the illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. For the second time, the issue had been placed before the General Assembly. The discussions in the Security Council had proven to be inconclusive, since it had been unable to take action because of lack of unanimity of its permanent members. The convening of the session demonstrated clearly the grave concern of Member States and their awareness of the implications of the present situation.
He said the maintenance of international peace and security was certainly a matter of concern to all States, as well as people. A threat to peace and security in any part of the world had a direct bearing on universal peace and security. No nation or group of nations could claim immunity from such developments. It was, therefore, appropriate that the General Assembly, given that the Security Council had not been able to take action, be the universal assembly to effectively address the issue.
Noting his earlier reference to the obligation placed upon the Organization to act in the face of the crisis, he recalled that there were certain obligations which affected all Member States: the obligation assumed by each Member under the Charter to ensure that international peace, security and justice should not be endangered; and the obligation shared by all Members to respect the decisions of the Organization.
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He said the emergency special session underlined the resolve of Members to seek recourse in the Assembly to resolve the issue with all peaceful means, fearful of grave consequences in the event the issue has not been satisfactorily resolved. It was not being conducted with rancour or acrimony, but in an effort to eliminate tension and to protect and save the peace process at a crucial juncture. The meetings today and tomorrow underscored the important role of the Assembly and its concomitant responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. Statements
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said he hoped the Assembly would adopt the necessary recommendations for Member States to take appropriate collective measures to guarantee respect for international law, contractual obligations and relevant United Nations resolutions, in accordance with the Charter. He said the Middle East peace process had been pursued on the basis of the mutual recognition of the legitimate rights of both peoples and the desire to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security. The process had continued and endured with great benefits for Israel and the accomplishment of some goals for the Palestinian side. However, he continued, when the current Israeli Government came to power, the situation had deteriorated dramatically. The most dramatic of a series of dangerous Israeli actions had been the commencement of construction of a new colonial settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians, along with the Arab people, saw that the promised benefits of peace had not been realized, the commitments of the interim period had not been fulfilled and, worse, the basis of the peace process itself was being destroyed. "They have a right to be angry and to oppose what is happening", he said. They had the right to demand an immediate halt to such Israeli policies and actions, and in the case of non-compliance, to demand from the international community the imposition of punishment, albeit in initial steps. It was their right to complain to the Security Council and the duty of the Council to respond. It was also their right to come before an emergency special session of the Assembly and all other international fora. "It is also the right of our people to take to the streets of their besieged towns and villages to express their collective rejection of Israeli actions" and to express their determination to defend their lands, he went on. Those who spoke of instigation to explain the reactions of the Palestinian people and who called the collective expressions against Israeli actions as Palestinian violence, either did not comprehend or had intentions that bordered on racism and hatred. The Israeli Government bore total responsibility.
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The bombings and acts of terror, however, from whatever source, were a different issue, he said. Palestinians had condemned those acts and acted against them and would continue to do so. But "the complete elimination of these acts requires real progress on both the political and economic levels and not only on the security level", he said. Those who made no serious contribution to the building of peace and coexistence should bear greater responsibility for the consequences.
He said the Palestinians would never accept new proposals to set aside the existing agreements and move to the final settlement negotiations. He cautioned against attempting to shirk the existing contractual obligations. The right path was the implementation of the existing agreements. If Israel continued its settlement activities and the Judaization of Jerusalem, Palestinians would have no other option but to continue political confrontation at all levels.
He reviewed events since "the occupation in 1967 of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem" and said that from the start, Israel had considered "Palestinian Jerusalemites" as foreigners. Now numbering approximately 180,000, they were compelled to pay all Israeli taxes and received no services in return. They were subjected to a slow eviction campaign, which recently intensified, to force them to leave the city. The Council and the Assembly had rejected Israeli actions designed to isolate the city from the West Bank, but, somehow, Israel had succeeded in acquiring protection for itself from the provisions of the Charter and international law. The world, which was guilty because of its failure to halt Israeli actions, especially with regard to Jerusalem and colonial settlement, should not allow that to continue.
Collective measures must be taken within the meaning of General Assembly resolution 377 (V) which would guarantee the prohibition of assistance to those who violated international law, preventing them from receiving financing and rewards. The United Nations and the Secretary-General should become engaged in observing the situation. All that should lead to the immediate cessation of the construction in Jabal Abu Ghneim and of all other settlement activities.
DAVID PELEG (Israel) said the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians over the building of a new neighbourood in Jerusalem, and any other dispute that might arise between the two sides, could not be considered, by any stretch of imagination, a "threat to international peace and security". Furthermore, no determination had been made during two Security Council sessions that the dispute constituted "a threat to international peace and security", nor had the Council called for the convening of a special session of the Assembly.
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It was also worthwhile to note that the procedure of the emergency special session had not been activated for the past 15 years, he said. It was a relic of the cold war era, and was particularly unsuited and discordant in the context of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It had now been three and one-half weeks since the emergency request; it had been sufficient time for Member States to ponder the justness and urgency of that request. Now that the session had finally been convened, the question was, was it really necessary, and how would it influence the Middle East peace process.
He said three United Nations sessions during the past month had dealt with the issue of housing construction in the planned Har Homa neighbourhood - - twice in the Security Council and once in the Assembly. What contribution could another session make? Not only would an emergency special session not advance mutual understanding, but it could become a source of further polarization. In a world plagued by a multitude of conflicts and tragedies, where the question in the Great Lakes region was far from being solved, and during a week in which hundreds of innocent Algerians, including women and children, had been slaughtered in cold blood, must the issue of building in Jerusalem be at the top of the United Nations agenda?
A cloud of uncertainty now hung over the peace process and recommendations by Arab foreign ministers to freeze normalization with Israel could be heard, he said. Although that atmosphere threatened a return to the era that existed prior to the Middle East process, he reiterated that Israel had chosen the path of peace of its own free will. It was committed to achieving a permanent and comprehensive peace for the Middle East. The entire nation of Israel stood united in its desire for peace.
From its first day in office, the Government of Israel had taken great pains to open channels of communications with the Palestinians and to develop practical methods to advance negotiations, at first on implementation of the Interim Agreement, and later on the permanent status settlement, he said. On 17 January, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Hebron Protocol. In addition to providing for the redeployment of the Israel Defense Force, that agreement created timetables for the further redeployment of the Israel Defense Force in the West Bank and for the resumption of the permanent status negotiations.
In March, the Government of Israel approved the plan for the first further redeployment in the West Bank, he said. In addition, all female Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli jails and nine committees were formed to discuss all outstanding issues, including the construction of an airport and seaport in Gaza and the issue of safe passage. Further steps were also undertaken to address the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including raising the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel to 70,000.
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The Government's hope was that the Hebron Protocol and the subsequent steps would increase mutual trust and create an atmosphere conducive to advancing the peace process. Its decision to build in Har Homa -- an area within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, where 75 per cent of the land was Jewish-owned -- did not violate any of the agreements with the Palestinians, according to which, pending the conclusion of the permanent status negotiations, the Palestinian Authority did not have any standing in Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, the importance of every step taken by Israel in accordance with its commitments had been marginalized and minimized, while vociferous demands for further Israeli concessions had increased, he said. Instead of continuing the negotiating process, the Palestinians had embarked on a regional and international campaign to exert pressure and to isolate Israel if it did not accept all Palestinian positions. However, Israel's commitment to peace was irreversible; there could be no turning back and no alternative.
There could be no meaningful peace while terrorism reigned, he said. The Palestinians's fight against terrorism should be total, uncompromising and comprehensive. That fight was neither a prize nor a concession to Israel. It was the duty and the obligation that the Palestinians had taken upon themselves when they chose to embark on the path of negotiation and peace. Israel was hopeful that the Palestinian Authority would take the necessary steps in its fight against terrorism and return to the permanent status negotiations, rather than avoiding them and adopting methods aimed at pressuring and isolating Israel.
For more than 3,000 years, Jerusalem had been the focal point of the Jewish people, he said. It had never been the capital of any nation other than Israel and would always be the heart and soul of the Jewish people. Israel had never used Jerusalem's unique status and special role within Judaism to denigrate other religious interests in holy places within the city. On the contrary, it had always been its policy to foster the ethnic and religious mosaic that was Jerusalem. Israel had undertaken to guarantee freedom of worship, pilgrimage and other aspects of religious life in areas under its control. That was a concrete expression of its unwavering commitment to religious freedom, which was enshrined in Israel's Declaration of Independence and continued to this day.
The issue of Jerusalem would be discussed within the context of the permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, he said. The Government hoped and trusted that the development of the city for the benefit of all of its residents would serve as a model of a unified city that guaranteed coexistence between its residents, irrespective of their religious beliefs or national origins.
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The core of the peace process was direct negotiations, he said. It was the only way to achieve progress and to secure the future for the children. He called for unity in promoting the peace process to turn the Middle East from a region of conflict and mistrust to one of peace and cooperation.
IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Committee deeply regretted the reasons for the present emergency special session, namely, Israel's intransigence with regard to its policy of settlement in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem. In recent years, the new international climate of cooperation and the unanimous desire for peace in the region had made possible various historic milestones on the road to peace, beginning with the mutual recognition of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993.
Those developments had shown that peace, though difficult and extremely fragile, was possible, and that serious negotiations between committed leaders could result in agreement, even on thorny and apparently unsolvable issues, he said. All the parties to the peace process had agreed to the basic "land for peace" formula, he said. That formula acknowledged the right of all States in the region, including Israel, to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders. It also reaffirmed the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and recognized the legitimate rights and claims of the Palestinian people. It also made provision for the negotiation of such issues as Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, future boundaries and modalities for future collaboration.
Regrettably, the continuing military occupation by Israeli forces of large areas of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, the presence of large numbers of armed settlers, and the ease with which roadblocks and closures could be imposed and maintained, fragmenting the territory and severely damaging the Palestinian economy, created a situation of great imbalance between the parties, he said. The Israeli Government should recognize that the quest for justice in the region was not only a response to Palestinian and Arab demands. It was also in Israel's interest if it desired peaceful co-existence with its neighbours. The Committee earnestly hoped that the present emergency special session would succeed in ensuring an end to the settlements policy and other unilateral measures taken by the occupying Power, as well as restore calm to the region and a climate of confidence in which negotiations could resume promptly.
MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASSAN (Kuwait) said the current session was an expression of the profound concern of all States for the success of the peace process. The Arab States, at their Cairo Summit last June, chose peace as their strategy and declared that non-compliance by Israel with its commitments would be a blow to the peace process.
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He said there must be a climate of confidence and the fulfilment of commitments for the peace process to succeed. Israeli actions contributed to a loss of confidence. For Israel to live peacefully with the Palestinians, it must stop its settlement constructions. It must withdraw from the Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon if it wanted peace with Syria and Lebanon, respectively. Israel must respect its commitments, he said. It must end the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and all other constructions in the occupied territories.
He said the Assembly must condemn the construction by Israel, the occupying Power, of a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim and all other illegal Israeli actions. It must reaffirm that all legislative and administrative measures taken by Israel, which altered or purported to alter the character, legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem were null and void. It should also reaffirm that Israeli settlements in all the territories it had occupied since 1967 were illegal and were an obstacle to peace.
The Assembly should also demand that Israel accept the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to all the territories occupied since 1967 and that it comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, he said. It should also stress the need for guaranteeing the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the occupied territories, including the removal of restrictions into and from East Jerusalem, as well as freedom of movement to and from the outside world. It should also urge the co-sponsors of the peace process to revive it. Israel must heed the voice of justice. Positive actions must be taken, so that all might live in peace in the region.
NASSER BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA (Qatar) said the United Nations had been created to deal with international issues and to maintain international peace and security. The current emergency special session would not have been called if the Security Council had not been prevented from discharging its responsibilities by the veto of one of its permanent members. That unfair use of the veto had encouraged Israel to continue its defiance of the international community and to begin construction of the settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim. As soon as possible, the international community should advise the Israeli Government to desist from such acts.
He went on to reviewed the resolutions of the Council relevant to the situation in the occupied territories including Jerusalem. Those texts represented a condemnation of Israel's actions. In particular, they recognized that Jerusalem was a holy city for Muslims and would not let Israeli actions violate the rights of all to the city.
Israeli intransigence should be fought, he said. The era in which occupation was acceptable had long since come to an end. The conscience of the world no longer accepted justifications for injustice. The international community must stop Israel and end its defiance of international law, which
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jeopardized the Middle East peace process. Israel must be compelled to desist from building settlements in Jabal Abu Ghneim and Arab Jerusalem, as such actions would end the peace process and bring violence back to the region.
SAMODRA SRIWIDJAJA (Indonesia) said that notwithstanding the historic developments over the past four years, it was increasingly difficult to reconcile Israel's professed commitment to the peace process with its actions and deeds. It had been Indonesia's hope that every gesture towards peace by the Palestinians would be reciprocated by Israel. Instead, it had witnessed methodical and systematic violations of the letter and spirit of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and an accentuation of a policy of fait accompli. The commencement of the building of a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim was not an isolated event. It was a link in a long chain of illegal acts committed against the Arab nations.
He said that through its actions, Israel seemed determined on intimidating and humiliating the Palestinians, in a vain attempt to consign them to perpetual subjugation and occupation. Israel had become adept at attributing to others the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, never acknowledging that its own actions had directly contributed to that grave state of affairs. Israel could not persist in assuming that its unlawful acts were taken in a vacuum, without serious repercussions to the overall peace in the region. It could not shirk its responsibility for the consequences emanating from its ill-conceived policies and practices.
He said Israel could not be exempted from the principles of international law and the provisions of the United Nations Charter, and it could not base its existence and security on the denial of the Palestinians' right to self-determination. In addition, Israel could not claim that the current difficulties in the peace process must be addressed strictly on a bilateral Israeli-Palestinian basis. Its unilateral actions in breach of the agreements already reached hardly lent credibility to its professed commitment to bilateral talks.
The emergency special session offered the opportunity to send yet another signal of the international community's categorical rejection of the Israeli action in East Jerusalem and of its continued support of the peace process, he said. It reflected a shared determination to ensure that the Middle East peace process was not jeopardized by unilateral Israeli actions. The session constituted an undeniable testimony of the recognition by the Assembly of its historic and permanent responsibility on the question of Palestine.
The General Assembly must pronounce itself unequivocally, he said, and demand that Israel immediately cease its construction of a new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim and refrain from undertaking further activities that were incompatible with and detrimental to the peace process. Member States must
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collectively act to break the vicious cycle of crisis, tensions and violence caused by Israeli actions. Indonesia would support a draft resolution which would encapsulate the minimum that must be complied with by Israel. He reiterated that the settlement of the question of Palestine was a prerequisite for achieving a durable and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. For peace, justice and stability to prevail in the Middle East, the United Nations must ensure the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan as well as Lebanon through the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978), he added.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that innocent young Palestinians were being cut short in their prime and conditions were such that another intifadah was possible. The State of Israel, he said, continued with its settlement plan in Jabal Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem oblivious to the sensitivities of the Palestinian people and the international community. That "dogged" policy of constructing settlements constituted a flagrant violation of resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, particularly resolutions 242 (1967), 252 (1968) and 338 (1973), which clearly stated, among others, that the acquisition of territory by force was inadmissible and all actions and measures of Israel to change the legal status of Jerusalem were illegal and invalid.
The suffering of the Palestinian people for more than 50 years was well known, he continued. The Palestinian appeal to the Security Council for firm action had been in vain. That failure had encouraged Israel to intensify its unilateral action, which threatened to strangle the peace process. Its sudden decision to construct settlements, after the hope created by the agreements of 1993, had come like a bolt from the blue, he said.
The General Assembly had before it a draft resolution which reflected the conscience of the world's nations, he said. The Assembly's support of that text would itself reflect the international community's aversion to the actions of one particular State, which destroyed years of hard work and negotiations. The world community, as a whole, could not be wrong when it demanded a halt to the settlement activities.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said that the gravity of the situation was illustrated by several facts. The Jewish settlements were a strong blow, if not a mortal blow, to Security Council resolution 242 (1967), and the land for peace formula derived from that resolution. Also, the location of the settlements was a vital one, as it was the last link in a chain meant to isolate the Arab sectors of Jerusalem. In addition, it was not fair to ask the Palestinians to negotiate what was a fait accompli, which was the establishment of the settlements themselves.
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Israel's actions cast doubt on the credibility of its desire for peace and attacked the very basis for peace, he continued. Several Israeli non- governmental human rights organizations had issued reports on what one of them described as "the quiet deportations" of Palestinians. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was the United Nations presence in the region and that presence should be maintained. Peace must be based on the vision of both partners, already agreed upon in the Madrid Conference, including the land for peace formula. For Israel to attempt to alter those agreements and to replace the formula on the flimsy basis of security, was unacceptable, he added. In fact, real security would not be achieved until a comprehensive peace was established in the region. His country had started the peace process in the region 20 year ago. It had always had an active role without renouncing its Arab responsibilities. Israeli policies, however, were feeding the violence, which was the natural result of frustration. SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) said that having helped create the State of Israel, the Assembly should continue its efforts to ensure the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The building of settlements in East Jerusalem contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant Security Council resolutions. It was obvious that Israel's decision to construct settlements was aimed at changing the character and demographic composition of the area and to present it as a fait accompli. He said Jerusalem was the "touchstone" of the Palestinian question. It was the third holy place for Moslems after Mecca and Medina. It was also holy to Christians. Israel should live up to its commitments and end its futile attempt to change the character of the occupied territories. It was the duty of the Organization to ensure the application of international agreements, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Convention and other relevant United Nations resolutions. The international community must take up its responsibility to ensure the achievement of peace, he said. The Assembly must adopt a resolution demanding that Israel halt its construction of settlements and respect international agreements and conventions. The actions of his own country had been guided by the principles embodied in those resolutions. The Assembly must ensure the implementation of agreements, so that the peace process did not fail. The co-sponsors of the Madrid Conference must call on Israel to respect the requirements for peace based on mutual recognition and respect. ABDELKADER MESDOUA (Algeria) said that since the current Israeli Government had come to power it had been creating obstacles to impede the peace process. What was taking place in the east sector of occupied Jerusalem was a clear example of Israeli policy and a violation of Israel's agreements with the Palestinian Authority, in particular, and international law, in general.
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The international community regarded Israel's violations as non-helpful to the peace process, he continued. They undermined the agreements that had been painstakingly laid out over the past few years. The Security Council had given a clear sign of the near consensus of the international community that Israel should halt its settlement activities and cease its violation of relevant United Nations resolutions.
In the face of Israel's intransigence and its persistent non-compliance with Security Council resolutions, he called on the international community to discharge its responsibilities. It should put an end to Israeli arrogance and, thus, rectify the situation. The emergency special session provided the international community with the opportunity to use firm and practical measures to impose compliance with its resolutions.
SAMIR MOUBARAK (Lebanon) said that the present Assembly emergency special session should consider the measures to be taken against Israel -- since the Security Council had failed to do so -- due to the grave threat the settlements presented to the whole peace process.
Israel was trying to renounce the Madrid frame of reference and was also rejecting all the norms of international law, he said. There was no use in trying to renounce the factors accepted in Madrid. Israel must desist completely from all settlement activities if it wished to have peace.
The Israeli settlement policy, which it had made an important part of its priorities, had dealt a nearly mortal blow to the hopes raised in Madrid, he said. "We are here for the fifth time in the past eight months", he noted, to concentrate on the illegal Israeli policies, which aimed at changing the legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem. Israel's action had paved the way for an Arab deportation from East Jerusalem. Human rights organizations, including Israeli human rights groups, had criticized Israel's expansion policies as extremely dangerous.
The Israelis had continued to keep the tunnel under the Al-Aqsa Mosque open despite Arab objections, he continued. People had the right to resist foreign occupation, and Palestinians had the right to resist Israeli terrorism in the occupied territories. Leniency towards the Israeli leaders in the Security Council had resulted in destruction and violence. It was the duty of the Assembly's special session to act for the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Charter and previous resolutions of the Security Council. The time that passed was not in the interest of peace. A firm stance against Israel should be taken, so as to make it return to the Madrid framework.
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