04/10/2000
Press Release
SC/6931



Security Council

4204th Resumed Meeting (PM)


SPEAKERS CONDEMN ONGOING VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST, IN RESUMED COUNCIL MEETING


As the Security Council this afternoon resumed its debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine, it heard from 17 speakers who condemned the ongoing eruption of violence in the Middle East and the unprecedented use of force in the conflict, and decried the killing of innocents such as women and children.


A number of speakers also called on the Council to end Israeli aggression; assume its responsibilities in safeguarding international peace and security; call on Israel to respect various United Nations resolutions and international law; affirm that Al-Quds al-Sharif was an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory; and recognize that Israeli politician Ariel Sharon’s visit was primed to provoke Moslems.  Some speakers called for the responsible parties in Israel to be tried for their crimes.


Iraq's representative said that, while many had expressed the hope that the Council would adopt the necessary measures to end the injustice imposed on the Palestinian people and hold the criminals responsible, facts indicated that they would be disappointed.  The balance of power within the Council would not allow for that.  The dominant force -- the United States -- was extending all its support and protection to the unjust entity and was supplying it with the means of destruction, even blessing the destruction of Arab States.  That unjust state of affairs would continue as long as the Council expressed the interests of the Power dominating it.


Ibra Deguene Ka (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said there was no viable alternative to the peace negotiations.  The sooner the Israeli leadership realized that peace and stability could not be unilaterally enforced but were based on compromise, mutuality and the development of an equitable partnership, the better it would be for the region.


Algeria's representative said there had been too much discussion in Council consultations about whether or not a public meeting should be held, whether

non-members of the Council could take the floor, and what tone those non-members would take if allowed to take the floor.  It was the absolute right of any Member State to call for a public meeting in the Council and to adopt whatever tone it wanted.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Pakistan, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Yemen, India, Mauritania,

and Turkey.  The Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States also addressed the Council.


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


The meeting, which commenced yesterday, resumed at 3:20 p.m. today and was suspended at 6:05 p.m.  It will resume tomorrow, 5 October, at 3 p.m.


Council Work Programme


The Security Council met this afternoon to resume its meeting, suspended yesterday evening, on the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine.


Statements


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said there had been too much discussion in Security Council consultations about whether or not a public meeting should be held; whether non-members of the Council could speak; and what tone those non-members could take if allowed to speak.  It was the absolute right of any Member State to call for a public meeting in the Council and to adopt whatever tone it wanted.


For several days now the populations of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and the occupied Palestinian territory had been the victims of a repression not seen since the intifada.  There had also been an unparalleled show of force.  One could not even speak of confrontation, since civilians, including children, were being killed in cold blood.  Their only response was fists and stones against tanks and helicopters. 


It was not acceptable that children were targeted, he said.  That shameful butchery must be halted immediately.  The current act of provocation had led to tragedy, while undermining and scuttling the peace process.  It was important that the Council live up to its responsibilities, play its role and exercise its mandate with regard to the Palestinian people.  Illegal Israeli actions must be stopped, including the use of real bullets against children.  Israel must also be put on notice to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention.


SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said his Government shared the international outrage and concern at the high-handedness of the Israeli forces against defenseless Palestinian civilians in the vicinity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the third most holy place in Islam.  The immediate reason was the misplaced determination of certain elements in Israel to undermine the Middle East peace process.  The Council must send an unequivocal message that such provocative actions and the bloodshed of innocent Palestinians were unacceptable.  The excessive force used by the Israeli security forces was unjustifiable.  They had committed grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


His Government unequivocally supported the just struggle of the Palestinian people for their inalienable rights, he said.  The peace process had been dealt a severe blow and had been pushed to the verge of collapse.  Immediate steps were needed to prevent further deterioration of the situation.  The peace process must be urgently put back on track on the basis of agreements reached and in full compliance with the relevant Council resolutions.  At stake were the authority and credibility of the United Nations.  Prompt action was required by the international community, in particular the Security Council, to end the present round of violence against Palestinians, secure Israel’s compliance with United Nations resolutions, ensure the safety and sanctity of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and facilitate the realization of the national rights of the Palestinian people.  The prospects for peace in that region and the future prosperity of the Middle East rested with the Council.


PRINCE ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said the convening of the current meeting was a sure expression of just how much the Security Council was aware of the violence that threatened the Middle East region.  The present chain of events once again reaffirmed the urgent need for peace in that region and the right of the Palestinian people to be rid of the injustice and occupation under which they had languished for so long.  Jordan condemned the heinous attacks against Palestinians by the Israeli occupation forces.  The events in Al-Quds Al-Sharif were a direct consequence of extremism and provocative practices by those who rejected peace inside Israel and were against Palestinians and Muslims. 


He said condoning extremism would only lead to further extremism and strife while undermining efforts to reach the just and effective peace that was sought by all.  Jordan called on Israel to cease harming the Palestinian people.  His country, its King, Government and people reaffirmed their solidarity with the Palestinian people as they sought to achieve their legitimate rights, and establish a sovereign State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.


IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the United States-sponsored Camp David Peace Summit in July had ended inconclusively, but the parties had remained engaged and there was hope of an eventual agreement.  The Palestinian side last month had delayed a declaration of statehood, thus giving peace another chance.  The Israeli side, however, did not reciprocate.  Instead, they continued their settlement activity and the rights of the Palestinian people were further eroded in direct violation of international law.  In the latest outbreak of violence, 40 Palestinians had been reported dead and the number of casualties exceeded 1,000.  The toll continued to rise.  That was the result of actions perpetrated in contravention of the Declaration of Principles of Interim Self-Government Arrangements and subsequent implementation agreements.  Such actions threatened the integrity of the peace negotiations, undermined the credibility of the whole process and endangered peace and stability in the region.


He joined those calling on both parties to refrain from further escalation of violence and to defuse the tension.  He also joined with the large part of the international community which was calling on the Israeli Government, political parties and security forces to desist from taking further measures to undermine the peace process; to ensure respect for the holy places; to guarantee the protection of Palestinians and their property in the occupied territories; to end all illegal settlement activities; and to proceed rapidly towards the implementation of agreements already reached.  Only rapid and consistent progress in the peace process leading to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East would prevent the current situation from deteriorating further.


There was no viable alternative to the peace negotiations, he said.  The sooner the Israeli leadership realized that peace and stability could not be unilaterally enforced but were based on compromise, mutuality and the development of an equitable partnership, the better it would be for all peoples of the region.  He hoped that the Council discussion would culminate in a clear demonstration of the its determination to find ways and means to stop the current spate of violence from claiming even more lives and to bring the peace process back on track.  The United Nations should continue to exercise its permanent responsibility towards all aspects of the question of Palestine, including the issue of Jerusalem, until it was resolved satisfactorily in conformance with relevant resolutions, and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized.


MOHAMMAD ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said the massacres perpetrated by Ariel Sharon

-- with the blessing of the Israeli Government -- against the Palestinian people were a blatant act of aggression and threat to peace and security in the Arab world.  When faced with the tragedy that was being visited on youth and children, it was hard to confront one’s emotions.  The Millennium Summit had declared that it would spare no effort to protect the vulnerable, including women and children.  Yet present events now questioned the credibility of what had been declared and what was being implemented.


In that respect he cited the Fourth Geneva Convention; the meeting of the Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict; the report of the Secretary-General on that same issue and the appointment of an international representative to address it; the 1988 Convention on Rights of the Child; the Declaration of the Millennium Summit; and the extraordinary session of the General Assembly to be held next year on the follow-up to the Conference on the Child.  However, in the context of what had been witnessed over the last few days, he asked, “can we convince our people that the United Nations has the capacity to prevent the Ariel Sharons of the world from behaving in the ways that they do?”


He added that violations of children were violations of the principles of international law.  The Council should hold the Israeli Government totally responsible for all its actions.


NASSIR ABDUALZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said the popular uprising currently raging in the occupied Palestinian territories was just an expression of the oppression suffered by the Palestinian people from the Israeli tyranny, the most recent example of which was the provocative visit of Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif.  It was heart-rending to witness a 12-year old boy killed in the arms of his father.  Besides being one of the most outrageous scenes, it was a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


The aggressive actions of the Israeli Army against an unarmed people were a shameful stigma, which discredited anybody who defended the Israeli position, he said.  The international community was urged to act and assume its responsibility towards the Palestinian people.  Just, comprehensive and permanent peace required ending Israeli occupation of all occupied Palestinian territories, including the Holy Al-Quds.  It also required enabling the Palestinian people to secure their legitimate national and political rights, including declaring an independent State with the Holy Al-Quds as its capital.


He asked the Council, among other things, to call on Israel to halt its excessive and aggressive hostilities and to withdraw its forces.  The Council should also call on Israel to launch an international investigation of the tragic events and to prosecute the Israelis responsible for firing on Palestinian citizens, to condemn the provocative visit of Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif and to condemn the actions of the occupying Israeli forces.


JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that an official in the Israeli Government, after describing the behaviour of Ariel Sharon, had said that the Palestinian response to that provocation had been orchestrated.  Was it reasonable to think that the Palestinian people would subject their children to such terror? he asked.  Would they want their children to be injured and die in the hundreds?  One could imagine the physical suffering of those Palestinians whose bodies were shattered into little pieces.  Undoubtedly most of the Council had seen the picture of the father and his son, their faces filled with terror, as the father tried to protect his son from Israeli bullets.  Shortly after the picture had been taken, the son was killed.


In view of Israeli actions, was it possible for peace talks to have any chance of success? he asked.  The Palestinians, supported by the Arabs, were champions of peace.  The Israelis must be convinced that surrender was not in the vocabulary of the Palestinians nor in that of the Arabs.  If the Israelis moved towards peace, the Palestinians, supported by the Arabs, would be the first to go along.


MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said six days of bloodshed had passed before this meeting -- six days which had claimed hundreds of martyrs and wounded among the Palestinians in Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.  It was very clear that most speakers in yesterday’s meeting considered the provocative visit by Ariel Sharon to the Muslim shrine of Haram al-Sharif as the trigger for the violence.  The Israeli Government’s support for Mr. Sharon reflected its very clear and unequivocal agreement with the visit and the subsequent bloodshed.  Mr. Sharon’s past was known to one and all.  This was not the first time that he had committed such savage acts and massacres nor was it the first time that Israel had perpetrated its aggression against holy sites in

Al-Quds Al-Sharif.


He said the visit by Mr. Sharon, surrounded by military and police forces, was a blatant provocation.  No sooner had those praying in the mosque expressed their rejection of the racist Israeli behaviour, then they were shot at in the beginning of a surge of violence that aimed to bring Palestinians to their knees.  The killings of 12-year old Mohammed al-Durra, a two-year old girl and the driver of the ambulance carrying Mohammed were just some examples of the atrocities being carried out by Israeli forces.  Israelis were targeting ambulances as well.  What conclusions could be drawn from this war being openly waged? he asked.  What could Palestinians do with stones and sticks against live ammunition?


He called on the Council to end Israeli aggression; assume its responsibilities in safeguarding international peace and security; call on Israel to respect various United Nations resolutions and international law; affirm that Al-Quds Al-Sharif was an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory; and recognize that Mr. Sharon’s visit was primed to provoke Muslims.  The horrible massacre had put the Council’s credibility in the spotlight.  That body should therefore adopt a resolution to end Israeli aggression in the occupied territories.  The responsible parties in Israel should also be tried for their crimes.


He said that in the last three months, the Israeli Government had also provided settlers with state-of-the-art lethal weapons so that they too could contribute to the massacre.  That Government had also convinced troops to use live ammunition, even against children.  Israeli forces were committing collective and deliberate murder in operations that were no less horrible than ethnic cleansing.  The present massacre confirmed once more that Israel was not peace-loving even though its leaders said it was.  Did Israel really wish to achieve a comprehensive and just peace? he asked.


HADI NEJAD-HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that since last Thursday, the Zionist forces in the occupied territories had reacted excessively and disproportionately to the rightful protests which had followed a flagrant act of provocation committed by criminals of Sabra and Shatila and had spread promptly across the whole occupied territory.  The provocative act, followed by indiscriminate killing of the Palestinians, had negated the Israeli pretense of peaceful intentions or desire for pacific co-existence with the Muslims and Christians in the region.  The recent crime committed by the Israeli armed forces was consistent with the aggressive and expansionist policies of Israel, aiming, in vain, to gain international recognition of its claim to sovereignty over the holy Islamic sites.


The current regime was the main cause behind the tension and instability in the region, he said.  The events in the occupied territories were another illustration of the perennial unequal war of stones versus heavy weapons; Palestinian struggle versus Israeli aggression; sacrifice for freedom and liberation versus arrogant oppression and occupation.  If history was any lesson, oppression, aggression and heavy-handedness could not last forever -- the Palestinians would eventually gain control over their destiny.  The international community in general and the Islamic world in particular were deeply concerned about the ongoing atrocities committed by the Israeli troops.  The incidents in recent days illustrated the contempt in which the views of the world public opinion were held by the Israeli regime.


Several times in the past, the Security Council had been called upon to put an end to the inhuman and aggressive acts of the Israeli regime, he said.  Regrettably, the exercise or threat of exercise of the veto had so far prevented the Council from discharging its responsibility in such a crucial issue, and had thus raised profound international disappointment.  Undoubtedly, the inaction of the Security Council had emboldened Israel to defy the wish of the international community, which was reflected in numerous General Assembly resolutions.


FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said the international community had followed with pain and anger the massacre perpetrated by the Israelis.  Israeli actions had resulted in the martyrdom and injury of hundreds of Palestinians of all ages.  The events had been set in motion by the actions of Ariel Sharon, who was well known for his role in the massacre of civilians in Sabra and Shatila.  Instead of fulfilling its obligations and duties and their responsibilities in the maintenance of peace and security, the Israeli Government had embarked on killing defenceless civilians, bombarding their villages and desecrating Islamic holy places.  Israel had breached the most basic principles and international norms.  Their barbaric practices underlined their unwillingness to seek peace.


The Arabs had shown their willingness to seek peace, he said.  Such a peace would require Israel’s withdrawal from all of the occupied territories.  The Arab character of Al-Quds was part and parcel of the occupied territories, a Palestinian land that had been occupied in June 1967.  He called on the Council to take all necessary measures to guarantee the protection to the Palestinian people and the Islamic holy sites.  He also called on the Council to ensure the observance of the Fourth Geneva Convention and that those responsible for the current violence be brought to justice. 


RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said that, once again, the world was taken aback to see Israeli forces taking precious lives from the civilian Palestinian population.  That brutal provocation took place at a time at which it would appear that negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority were resuming, in their pursuit for the longed and necessary peace.


Cuba strongly condemned the provocations and barbarism against the Palestinian people and demanded an immediate cessation of acts of repression and force, which could have unpredictable regional and global consequences.  The Security Council had confirmed, through 25 different resolutions, its recognition of the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem.  The international community expected determined, expeditious and effective action by the Council.  ”However, when the long list of speeches is through today, this meeting will leave many of the participants here dissatisfied", he said.


He reaffirmed Cuba's full and unyielding solidarity with the Palestinian people in their just struggle to establish an independent and sovereign State, having Jerusalem as its capital, and to the return of all occupied Arab territories.  He urged the international community to strongly condemn the crimes and the delaying tactics used by Israel during all those years, and reiterated that a just and lasting solution would not be found for the Middle East conflict unless it was based on strict compliance with resolutions 242 (1967) and

338 (1973).  The Palestinian people needed, today more than ever, the support of the international community, he said.


ABDALLA SALEH AL-ASHTAL (Yemen) said Council resolutions must not be violated.  His Government had declared its deep concern over the bloody confrontations in the courtyard of Al-Haram Al-Sharif following the provocative visit by Ariel Sharon.  The prevarication by the Barak administration and the continual retreat from their obligations was the reason for Israeli aggression and the acts of provocation. 


He condemned Israeli actions and said his Government placed responsibility for the deteriorating situation on Israeli shoulders.  He called on the Council to reaffirm the need for a comprehensive solution that would encompass the status of Al-Quds.  The international community must continue to work towards peace, a peace that took into account the rights of the Palestinian people and promoted security in the region.


KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said that his Government was deeply concerned by the recent violent incidents in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and in other parts of the Palestinian National Authority and Israel.  That had vitiated the atmosphere for the Middle East peace process.  The overriding need now was for restraint, avoidance of provocation and the shunning of all acts that could destabilize the process.  India remained convinced of the need for dialogue and peaceful negotiation to find a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement to all issues, and supported the endeavours of the international community towards that objective.  Recent events should not be allowed to retard or delay the peace process, for which the leadership of Palestine and Israel had striven so hard.


SAEED HASSAN (Iraq) said the desecration of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, by the same person who was responsible for two other massacres in Sabra and Shatila, and the consequent use by Israel of armed force, tanks and heavy artillery against Palestinians, confirmed the aggressive nature of the Zionist entity and presented the international community with a real challenge.  Could that community defend right this time and avenge those who had suffered?  Some of the previous speakers had expressed hope that the Council would adopt the necessary measures to end the injustice imposed on the Palestinian people and hold the criminals responsible.  Facts, however, indicated that they would be disappointed, since the balance of power within the Council would not allow for that.  The dominant force, the United States, was extending all its support and protection to the unjust entity and were supplying it with the means of destruction, even blessing the destruction of Arab States.  That unjust state of affairs would continue as long as the Council expressed the interests of the Power dominating it.


He said the present situation should be an additional incentive for all Council members to study the matter and to seek radical solutions that would establish rights.  The problem was one of a military occupation of the Palestinian territory, and adventurers flocking into the land under the pretext that it was a land without a people.  The problem was a tragedy of an occupied people against whom all forms of repression were being practiced.  The problem lay with 4 million refugees pushed off their land; with racist, expansionist and hateful Zionist creeds; and with sites held sacred by billions of Muslims.  He said Palestine was part of the Arab nation -- one of the oldest, and one that had given birth to some of the noblest civilizations in history.  It was also a nation that would defeat the Zionist invasion, as it did with both the Moguls and the Crusaders.  He expected the international community to stand by the Arab nation in this battle.


MAHFOUDH OULD DEDDACH (Mauritania) expressed his Government’s condemnation of the events of recent days, including the premeditated firing against civilians and the use of helicopters and gunships.  He called on the United Nations to prevent such crimes and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.  He reaffirmed his support for the peace process, saying that a just and durable peace could only be achieved through the Madrid formula and the implementation of the relevant Council resolutions.  The grave events now taking place might put the last nail in the coffin of peace in the Middle East. 


HUSSEIN HASSOUNA, permanent observer for the League of Arab States, said members of the Council and those who spoke before were unanimous in believing that the bloody events were ignited by Mr. Sharon’s desecration of the sacred shrine of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, supported by the Israeli Government.  Moreover, there was an international consensus that the large and growing number of Palestinian victims was due to the excessive use of force by Israel.  He extended condolences to the families of the innocent victims.  The League had been the first international organization to seriously consider the grave events and its council laid full responsibility for the eruption of violence at Israel’s door.  The League called for an international investigation into Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people and for the prosecution of those responsible before an international court.  


He said that, at a time when humanity was taking its first steps into a new millennium and trying ensure that there was peace for all, aggressive Israeli forces were determined to follow a current that was contrary to everything sought by the rest of the world.  Israeli violations could not pass by with immunity.  The League called on the Security Council to intervene; to intensify efforts to end Israeli aggression, provide protection to the Palestinian people and to take every measure to make Israel halt its unfounded and unjust violations.  If the United Nations was genuinely interested in promoting respect for international justice and the rule of law, then the League believed it was high time to implement the Organization's resolutions that were legally binding on all States.  He also hoped that efforts to rescue the peace process would succeed.


UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) said his country deplored the recent acts of violence in Al-Haram Al-Sharif, in the vicinity of Jerusalem, in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, as well as in other Palestinian areas.  During the period preceding the regrettable developments, tension in the region was mounting as a consequence of

the difficult phase in which the peace process found itself.  It should not have been exacerbated by provocative actions.


It was time for de-escalation, he said, and called on both parties to restore calm through the exercise of utmost restraint.  The withdrawal of Israeli security forces would constitute a first step for normalizing the situation on the ground.  A transparent and impartial investigation, with the involvement of both Israel and Palestine, into the causes of the recent upheaval should be undertaken as soon as possible.  It was of the utmost importance that due process should be initiated against the perpetrators of those criminal acts.


He hoped that the events, however excruciating, would not derail the parties from their principal course:  the Middle East peace process, he said.  The international community should assume its responsibility in helping to revive the process.  A lasting settlement would be the best answer to provocateurs of all sorts.


Council President MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) then suspended the meeting.


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