03/10/2000
Press Release
SC/6930



Security Council

4204th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP SITUATION IN MIDDLE EAST; SPEAKERS EXPRESS


SYMPATHY TO FAMILIES OF WOUNDED AND KILLED, CONDEMN VIOLENCE


The Security Council met this afternoon to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine.  During the debate, speakers expressed sympathy to the families of those killed and wounded in the recent conflict and condemned the violence.


Israel's representative said the events of the last few days represented the latest and most severe developments in a wave of violence that had been building in recent weeks.  It was regrettable that, at such a sensitive time in the Middle East peace process, the Palestinians had once again decided to resort to violence for political gain. 


He said that at this decisive crossroad of the peace negotiations, backed up by an unprecedented Israeli willingness to pursue a path of historic compromise, one major question demanded scrutiny:  was Chairman Yasser Arafat truly prepared to forego unrealistic demands and dreams and embrace reasonable peace, or would he remain entrenched in his positions, and forever play the role of the unquenchable leader of an endless Palestinian revolution?


The Permanent Observer for Palestine said that what had happened over the past few days could only be understood in the context of realizing that the Israelis intended to break the will of the Palestinians and that some Israeli officers were taking matters into their own hand for personal or political reasons.  Those responsible must be brought to justice so that such events could not recur.


He said the Council must end Israel's brutal campaign and its violation of international law, Council resolutions and the peace accords.  If the Council succeeded, it would have played a crucial role in addressing the situation on the ground, upholding international humanitarian law and creating the necessary environment for resuscitating the peace process.


Statements were also made by the representatives of the United States, France (on behalf of the European Union), Bangladesh, Netherlands, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Argentina, Jamaica, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Tunisia, Mali, Namibia, Egypt and South Africa.


This afternoon's meeting was convened in response to the requests by the representatives of Iraq, Malaysia and South Africa and from the Permanent Observer for Palestine.


The meeting began at 3:20 p.m. and was suspended at 5:25 p.m.  It will resume at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 4 October.

Council Work Programme


The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine.


Statements


NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, said that on

28 September Ariel Sharon had taken a provocative and insulting step against Arabs and Muslims when he had visited Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam.  He was accompanied by a large number of Israeli security forces.  Clashes had resulted, involving a large number of Palestinians.  On the following day, Israeli forces had assaulted Al-Haram Al-Sharif and committed aggression against that holy place.  The Sharon visit and the move by the security forces against the site had resulted in large numbers of injuries and touched off protests among Palestinians who were convinced of the need to protect against Israeli aggressions.


The way in which the Israeli power had reacted to the Palestinian protest was no surprise, he said.  They had used large amounts of military power, snipers, live ammunition, hand grenades, tank missiles and helicopter gunships, moving tanks to Palestinian towns.  Some Israeli forces had willingly killed large numbers of Palestinians, including the child Mohamed Jamal Al-Durra. 


Israeli security forces had continued to inflict serious injuries on large numbers of civilians, specifically on 1 and 2 October and, to a lesser extent, on 30 September.  Some members of Palestinian police forces, seeing first-hand the severity of the attack, had engaged in combat with the Israeli armoured troops using their personal weapons.  That action had resulted in casualties among the police.  Up until yesterday, there were 42 Palestinian martyrs, including

16 children, in addition to hundreds of injuries.  The Israeli forces tried to inflict great losses on the Palestinians, using unprecedented force.  Their actions were in gross violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention.  The perpetrators must be brought to trial and punished.


Inside Israel, he said, some Israeli Arabs had protested in an attempt to show solidarity with their Arab brothers.  The Israelis had responded with brutal actions that resulted in the death of 10 of their own citizens.  That was more proof of Israeli responsibility for the bloody actions that had taken place over the last few days.  Only a gullible person and a racist would allege that the blame for the recent events was the fault of the Palestinians.  One had to be a racist to believe that the Palestinians were inferior.  What had happened over the past few days could only be understood in the context of realizing that the Israelis intended to break the will of the Palestinians and that some Israeli officers were taking matters into their own hands for personal or political reasons.  Those responsible must be brought to justice so that such events could not recur.


He said the Council must put an end to the brutal campaign of Israel and its violation of international law, Council resolutions and the peace accords.  If the Council succeeded, it would have played a crucial role in addressing the situation on the ground, upholding international humanitarian law and creating the necessary environment for resuscitating the peace process.  He sincerely hoped that could be achieved.

YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said “we mourn, together with the Palestinians, the shattering death of the young Mohammed Jamal Al-Durra, as we mourn our own losses”.  It was precisely that human suffering that the Middle East peace process was meant to alleviate.  He said the events of the last few days represented the latest and most severe developments in a wave of violence that had been building in recent weeks.  Though some were inclined to assign exclusive responsibility to Israel for those acts of provocation, the reality was far less simplistic.  The present Palestinian escalation dated to well before the Temple Mount disturbances, when, on 13 September, stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli positions in the vicinity of the Netzarim Junction in Gaza.  That had been followed by a number of increasingly violent incidents, including the killing of an Israeli soldier by a roadside bomb on 27 September, and the murder of an Israeli police officer by a Palestinian policeman, who had served with him on a joint patrol on the West Bank on 29 September.


He said the events of the past Friday on the Temple Mount had escalated the violence even further.  “Let there be no doubt, we are not faced with peaceful demonstrators, but rather with coordinated escalation of violent confrontation through the West Bank and Gaza”, he said.  In all cases, Israeli security personnel had returned fire only when absolutely necessary and only when faced with an imminent threat to life and limb.  Israeli forces only took action as a last possible resort, in order to protect the lives of civilians, police officers and Israeli soldiers, as any government would be obligated to do.  The responsibility for this distressing situation lay squarely with the Palestinian Authority, not only because of its failure to take action to halt events, but also for its incitement of the population through inflammatory rhetoric and calls to violence.


He said, furthermore, that the Palestinian Authority security forces and paramilitary groups had taken a leading role in the events, including the use of live ammunition against Israelis.  Even more disturbing for Israel was the wholesale violation of signed agreements regarding the use of weapons by Palestinian policemen.  There had been persistent reports from Israeli soldiers in the field of indiscriminate and unprovoked gunfire, including the use of heavy machine guns and high explosives, emanating from Palestinian positions.  The Palestinian police had turned those weapons against the same Israeli soldiers with whom they carried out joint security tasks on a daily basis.


He said it was regrettable that, at such a sensitive time in the Middle East peace process, the Palestinians had once again decided to resort to violence for political gain.  At this decisive crossroad of the peace negotiations, backed up by an unprecedented Israeli willingness to pursue a path of historic compromise, one major question demanded scrutiny:  was Chairman Yasser Arafat truly prepared to forego unrealistic demands and dreams and embrace reasonable peace?  Or would he forever remain entrenched in his positions, and forever play the role of the unquenchable leader of an endless Palestinian revolution?


He said Israel called upon the Palestinian leadership to act with responsibility, and to do its utmost to immediately calm the situation and help foster a climate conducive to the advancement of peace negotiations.  His country remained committed to achieving a peace settlement with its Palestinian partners, even in the face of such violence.


RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said his country prayed for the restoration of peace in a region where leaders had demonstrated extraordinary effort to achieve that objective.  The focus must be on stopping the violence and encouraging the parties to return to the peace process.  That was the only way to end the cycle of heartbreak and sorrow.  The President of the United States, William Clinton, its Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and other colleagues were engaged in ongoing consultations with the parties in search of ways to end the violence. 


He said tomorrow, Secretary Albright would meet in Paris with the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, and Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat.  Each of those meetings would have great importance and the world would be watching them for a reversal of the current violence.  As soon as conditions permitted, the United States would also chair a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security officials, for the purpose of fact-finding and to prevent a recurrence of events of the last few days.


He stressed that the first priority must be to stop the violence.  Now was not the time to apportion blame.  Empty rhetoric also did not forward the cause of peace.  Too often in the past, positions taken by this Council, and by the United Nations itself, had tarnished the Organization’s credibility and undermined its ability to play a constructive role in the peace process.  “Let us not do the same today”, he said.  Recent events had been a setback to the peace process and “we cannot pretend otherwise”.  “We cannot allow them to be a setback for out efforts to restore the United Nations’ credibility or vital historic role in this process”, he added.


He said there was no place in the peace process for violence, intimidation or pressure.  The only way peace could be achieved was through negotiations.  Neither side wanted a future of confrontation.  The Council must focus on restoring calm and creating a climate in which the parties could take steps that would lead to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.


JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the events of recent days were the result of a deliberate provocation carried out by Ariel Sharon.  France condemned his actions and deplored the violence that grew out of his visit to the holy place for reasons of domestic politics.  The responsibility of those charged with keeping order was at issue.  As President Chirac had said, you do not fight against emotion with armour.  He hoped full light would be shed on those events and on who was responsible for the tragedy.  He called on the leaders of both parties to do all they could to ease tension.  The clashes played into the hands of enemies of the peace process, and were of all the more concern because both parties had never been closer to peace.  The discussions had allowed for hope that the peace sought for over 50 years would come about.  He hoped the meeting tomorrow between Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat would have a successful outcome.  France and the European Union would continue to support the peace process.  There was no other option than peace. 


Speaking on behalf of the European Union, he said that on 1 October the European Union had issued a statement expressing concern about the bloody clashes and called on the decision-makers on both sides to halt the violence and prevent further provocation.  It invited the parties to concentrate on the quest for a negotiated peace.  On 2 October, the European Union had again called for reason to prevail and for an end to the violence.  Disproportionate response to protests would cause more violence and raise the death toll.  The Union supported the establishment of an international law commission to objectively establish the facts of the last few days.  .


ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that Bangladesh was deeply concerned at the escalation of violence in the occupied territories and excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians by Israeli troops, resulting in heavy causalities.  The image of a terror-stricken 12-year old -- Mohammad Jamal -- before he was shot dead continued to haunt everyone.  Bangladesh condemned such brutal acts perpetrated by Israeli forces.  He also called for an appropriate inquiry into the events, including of possible violations of the Geneva Convention, and the assurance that those responsible would be brought to justice.  All parties were urged to act with the utmost prudence and restraint, to refrain from acts of provocation, and to make all efforts to restore calm.


Bangladesh believed that the cycle of violence in the region could only end through a just and comprehensive peace agreement, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and the various international agreements signed between the parties concerned in the Middle East, he said.  He emphasized the need for immediate and full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions regarding withdrawal of Israeli occupation from all Arab territories, including eastern Jerusalem, as well as regarding the return of refugees.  It was in this context that Bangladesh extended unreserved and unswerving support to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of the Palestinian refugees to return. 


He urged Israel to refrain from all activities, including building new settlements in occupied Arab territories, that sought to alter the religious, political and ethnic character of these territories.  It was most unfortunate that, when the peace process in the Middle East had reached a crucial stage, an Israeli leader's calculated provocation resulted in the recent escalation of violence in the occupied territory, putting the whole process in jeopardy.  He reiterated the call for putting the peace process back on track and, in this context, welcomed the initiative by the United States to convene a meeting between the leaders of Palestine and Israel in Paris tomorrow.


PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said he would like to express gratitude that both sides seemed to be bringing the situation under control, thus setting the tone for the meeting tomorrow in Paris.  The events of the last few days at least seemed to have convinced everyone of the need for a negotiated lasting settlement.


HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that his delegation was deeply dismayed by the turmoil that had descended on Palestine, and strongly condemned the actions of the Israeli security forces against defenceless Palestinian civilians at Al-Haram   Al-Sharif.  Malaysia also condemned the visit of the Likud Party leader to      Al-Haram Al-Sharif in utter disregard and contempt of the religious sensitivities of the Palestinians.  His visit could not be seen as anything other than a brazen act intended to provoke Palestinian reaction.  He had gone there to assert the Israeli claim over the sacred site and over all of East Jerusalem at a particularly sensitive time.


The world would not forget the image of a 12-year old child being shot and killed in the arms of his own father, he said.  Their fates summed up the plight of the Palestinians living in the occupied Arab territories, in general:  that of very vulnerable people, who were, from time to time, caught haplessly in situations of violence and subjected to the draconian policies and practices of the army of an occupying Power.


His delegation called on the Israeli authorities to put an immediate stop to the high-handed actions of its security forces and to bring to justice those responsible for the tragic deaths.  These actions constituted grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.  His delegation reaffirmed that a just and lasting peace could only be achieved with the complete withdrawal of Israel from all Arab and Palestinian land occupied since 1967, including the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and occupied Syrian Golan.


His delegation also reaffirmed that establishing an independent State of Palestine, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, along with the implementation of all international resolutions on the Palestinian issue, were the only guarantees for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.  Malaysia continued to recognize Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the political and historical capital of the Palestinian people and State, and called on Israel to comply with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and all other relevant resolutions of the Council.


The grave situation in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory must be addressed immediately by the international community and, in particular, by the Security Council, he said.  The international community must exercise its responsibility in order to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian people, rescue the Middle East peace process and enhance the prospects for peace in the region.  His delegation welcomed the upcoming meeting on Wednesday, 4 October, in Paris and commended the efforts of France and the United States in that regard.  He hoped that the meeting would address the urgent issue of resuming the negotiations, leading to a final political settlement, thereby fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of all peace-loving Arabs and Jews.


SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the tragic events of the past few days were the result of provocative acts intended to break off the hoped-for settlement of the peace process.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation had had conversations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders urging that the necessary steps be taken to avoid further confrontations. 


He said his Government condemned manifestations of extremism aimed at breaking down the talks.  It also condemned the excessive use of force with lethal weapons and urged both sides to use restraint to prevent further outbreaks.  Only then could they move on to the peace dialogue.  He wished to see the talks in Paris succeed -– the meeting should end the current stream of violence.  It was important to get the sides back to the negotiating table.  The Council must continue to remain closely focused on the situation in the Middle East and react properly to the situation in order to allow for the peace.


VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said that his country was concerned with the violence that had broken out at the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound and shocked by the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defence Forces and police against Palestinian civilians.  Ukraine was similarly appalled by incidence of casualties on the Israeli side.  He urged the parties to stop the hostilities, to refrain form unilateral provocative action, and to persevere in their efforts aimed at reaching a final settlement agreement.  His country called on Israel to ensure that the Fourth Geneva Convention was fully respected in the Palestinian territories.


Ukraine had always been supportive of the Middle East peace process, and was convinced that the Palestinian and Israeli sides did not have any alternative but to complete the implementation of the Madrid peace process formula based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), as well as on the principle of land for peace, he said.  It was his country's firm belief that the Israelis and Palestinians would eventually reach a mutually acceptable compromise on such issues as the fate of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and he hoped that the Palestinian peoples would find themselves in a position to exercise in full their right to self-determination and statehood.


He looked forward to the forthcoming Israeli-Palestinian summit to take place in Paris and Cairo, he said, and welcomed the readiness of Egypt and France to host the meetings at such a critical moment.  Ukraine also commended the United States in this regard, and welcomed the constructive engagement of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative.  His delegation believed that the Security Council should continue to follow the developments on the ground closely, and act appropriately in exercise of its primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security.  The United Nations should also continue to maintain its permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it was resolved in conformity with its relevant resolutions.


ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said his country condemned the current violence in the Middle East and regretted the fact that innocent lives had been taken.  It also rejected the excessive use of force and urged both parties to act with maximum caution, and refrain from acts of provocation that could exacerbate the Middle East peace process.  Reaffirming his country’s position, he said Argentina recognized Israel’s right to live in peace with its neighbours within secure and internationally recognized borders.  His country also recognized the Palestinian right to self-determination.  He welcomed the roles being played by both the French and Egyptian Governments in the current crisis.  He hoped their initiatives would contribute to resolution of the present problems.


M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that she regretted the outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  She expressed deep condolences to the families of those who had been victims of that violence.  Jamaica also condemned the excessive use of violence against Palestinian civilians which had resulted in tragic loss of life.  She urged the parties to refrain from the use of force and from provocative acts that undermined the peace process and appealed to the parties to take immediate steps to create an environment suited to restoring peace and stability in the region, as well as to continue talks leading to a comprehensive and lasting settlement.


She went on to say that, over the years, the Council had been actively aware of the situation in the Middle East and had continually urged negotiations that would bring an end to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  During that time, there had been several commendable initiatives aimed at achieving that goal by the United Nations, individual States and regional organizations.  The situation continued to require collective action in order to remove threats to international peace and to bring about a comprehensive settlement to the dispute.  To that end, the Council had also urged that any negotiations take into account the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel.  Indeed, it was only through negotiation that a lasting peace could be found.


The recent outbreak of violence came at a time when strenuous efforts were being made to bring peace to the region, she said.  In fact, at this critical juncture, the leaders of Israel and Palestine were in the midst of negotiations.  Therefore, Jamaica was quite concerned about the overall effects the recent violence would have on the peace process.  In the hope that the process would not "unravel", she attached great importance to efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Terje Roed-Larsen, who was expected to hold talks with the parties.  She also welcomed the meetings in Paris tomorrow between Prime Minister Barak, Chairman Arafat and United States Secretary of State Albright.  She was also hopeful of the outcome of meetings scheduled for Thursday in Cairo between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders and President Mubarak. 


Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his Government deplored the tragic loss of life and was horrified by the deaths of innocent children.  It was alarming to see how such events could get out of control.  Those who had fuelled the violence wanted to derail the peace process.  They should not be allowed to succeed. 


He said the tragic events had brought home the need for a new urgency in resolving the outstanding issues in the Middle East peace process.  It was vital for the violence to come to an end so that the peace talks could get under way again.  He welcomed the talks in Paris tomorrow and the meeting on 5 October in Cairo.  There needed to be a return to diplomacy and negotiation.   


The Middle East region needed to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace to benefit all its peoples, he said.  Britain and the rest of the European Union had made clear their commitment to assist with development in the region, but progress would be painfully slow unless there was a peace agreement.  It was the duty of the region’s leaders to make sure that they turned away from violence.  They must overcome the immediate difficulties and focus on achieving peace.  


WANG YING FAN (China) said his delegation condemned the use by Israel of heavy armaments against innocent civilians.  The Security Council had the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and also had the unavoidable responsibility of protecting Palestinian civilians.  The Council, therefore, had to end the bloody circumstances in which innocent civilians were subjected to violence.  Both parties had to show restraint and to settle all issues and differences by an early date, as well.


PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said his country appealed to both parties to make every effort to end the current hostilities.  Both Israelis and Palestinians had to work to make sure that their security and civilian forces exercised restraint. Further inflammatory action at that critical point would only disrupt peace negotiations and fuel the efforts of those who sought to disturb the peace.  There had been violence on both sides, but the disproportionate use of force and the large number of Palestinian civilian fatalities had been particularly disturbing. Over the past decade, Israeli and Palestinian leaders had achieved, through negotiation, what many had thought impossible.  They must not be allowed to falter as they were so close to their goals.  The Council must also do all it could to support those leaders as they worked to resolve their differences.


SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the city of Jerusalem and the occupied territories were living in explosive situations because of provocative actions aimed at the Palestinian people.  Israel’s use of excessive force -- helicopters, gunships and tanks in Palestinian towns –- had resulted in the deaths of scores of innocents.  Israel’s actions had also violated Geneva Conventions and constituted a serious threat to the peace process in the Middle East. 


The whole world was looking to the Council, as it had the primary responsibility for peace and security.  It was also looking for quick actions that would protect Muslims and end the brutal campaign against the Palestinians.  The Council’s duty today was to create conditions to restore the peace process.  He called on the Council to create such conditions by ordering an immediate and transparent enquiry into the recent events.


MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said his Government condemned all acts of violence and bloodshed, including the events of the last few days.  He supported the move to establish responsibility for the events in question and said the peace process was the only way to find a solution to the problem.  The upcoming meeting in Paris should help to end the violence and renew the peace process.


The Security Council President, MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia), speaking in his national capacity, said that his delegation was shocked and strongly condemned the recent violence unleashed by Israel’s security forces against Palestinian civilians, including women and children.  His delegation was particularly shocked by the large number of deaths and injuries, which were caused by excessive force and the indiscriminate deployment of heavy weaponry, such as helicopter gunships, by Israel.  He expressed his profound condolences to the families of all those killed and wounded.


In the view of Namibia, the actions by the Israeli security forces constituted serious breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which was applicable to all territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  Israel, as the occupying Power, should scrupulously ensure that all the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention were fully implemented.  The events of the past few days resulted undoubtedly from the irresponsible and provocative visit by Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif.  The insensitivity of his actions was well known, and what happened could only be viewed as a deliberate provocation.


In the view of the setbacks, it was now more important than ever that the parties end violence and exercise the utmost restraint, he said.  He called on both the Palestinian and Israeli parties to resume negotiations towards a peaceful settlement.  He welcomed the proposed summit in Paris tomorrow.  Full peace would never return to the Middle East until a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement to the question of Palestine was reached, based on relevant United Nations resolutions.  The Security Council had a responsibility to the Arab occupied territories.  He reiterated his support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative. 


AHMED ABOULGHEIT (Egypt) said his Government was enraged at the intransigence of the Israeli Government even though their actions had taken place in full view of the whole world.  Mr. Sharon had said he was exercising his right to visit a holy Israeli sanctuary.  It was clear that Mr. Sharon, a staunch opponent of the peace process, aimed at inciting violence among the Palestinian people and derailing the peace process.  One wondered about the position of the Israelis who allowed such a visit to take place and provided such concentrated security for Mr. Sharon. 


He said he did not need to discuss the question of oppression.  Everyone had seen the bloody and tragic scene of the death of a Palestinian child in his father’s arms.  He hoped the Council would take decisive action against the perpetrators.  There was one major issue:  the question of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by force.  The international community had again realized that the Palestinians and the Muslims deeply cherished that holy city and how they felt when their sanctuaries were defiled.  Israeli tanks had encircled the city from every side.  Palestinians were still under occupation.  Even the liberated areas were subject to being stifled by Israeli forces when and where they pleased. 


Continuing, he said the realization of peace in the region was Egypt’s first priority.  It was working diligently with the co-sponsor of the peace process, the United States.  That did not relieve the Council of its responsibility.  There was an occupying force and an occupied people.  He called on the Council to take measures to guarantee non-entry by armed Israeli forces into the courtyard of

Al-Haram Al-Sharif, to stop the harassment of Palestinians by the Israeli army, to condemn Israeli actions in the territories and to demand observance of international law, primarily the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The Council should investigate the violence and hold the Israelis who had opened fire responsible.  It should guarantee that Palestinian civilians harmed by Israeli acts were compensated. 


He said President Hosni Mubarak had invited President Arafat, Prime Minister Barak and Secretary of State Albright to Cairo to discuss events and to find out who was responsible and to reinvigorate the peace process.  A just and equitable peace was their common objective, but it required the determination of both parties.  Actions such as the recent visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif should not be allowed to derail the efforts of the American co-sponsor.  He warned that such an approach would severely jeopardize the peace process.  Israel must stop using military oppression to support its positions, which lacked any basis in international law and lacked international support.  Al-Haram Al-Sharif was a holy site.  Israel must terminate its occupation of the Holy City sooner or later.


DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said that this was not the first time that the Council had met on the issue.  Ten years ago, the Council expressed alarm at the violence which took place at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and other holy places of Jerusalem.  At that time, the Security Council condemned acts of violence committed by the Israeli security forces which had resulted in injuries and loss

of human life, and had called upon Israel to abide meticulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities.  It was thus with bitter regret that the Council met again today in an emergency session to once again condemn acts of violence related to this holy place.  Especially alarming was the use of live ammunition against civilians by Israeli security forces.


The defiant and provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif by Ariel Sharon, leader of the Likud Party, was done in total disregard of the advice of some in the Israeli Government and other international players.  It could not be denied that such provocative actions served to provoke the anger and resentment of Palestinians in what was already a volatile situation, he said.  In September, the Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement reaffirmed their determination to actively strive towards the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of land for peace.  They had stressed the need for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.


Furthermore, the Ministers reaffirmed that a just and comprehensive peace could only be achieved by upholding international legitimacy and relevant United Nations resolutions, and that was incumbent on all Member States to uphold the purpose and principles of the Charter, international humanitarian law, and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, he said. The Movement, therefore, called on the Israeli Government to exercise restraint and to act in accordance with its stated desire to achieve peace.  It further urged Israel to cease its measures of collective punishment against Palestinians, to restore the sanctity of the Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and to allow free access to it by Muslim worshippers. 


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