03/04/2002
Press Release
SC/7352



Security Council

4506th Meeting* (AM & PM)


FIFTY-EIGHT SPEAKERS ADDRESS SECURITY COUNCIL IN DAY-LONG MIDDLE EAST DEBATE;

STRESS NEED TO IMPLEMENT COUNCIL'S CALL FOR CEASEFIRE, ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL


Meeting Then Suspends for Consultations on Draft Resolution


The Security Council, meeting for the second time in less than a week to address the situation in the Middle East, heard from 58 speakers in a day-long debate today, including the Observer for Palestine and the representative of Israel, before suspending for consultations on a potential draft resolution. 


During the debate, which was requested by the representatives of Tunisia, for the Arab Group of States, and South Africa, for the Non-Aligned Movement, speakers stressed the need for the parties to immediately implement the provisions of recent Council texts on the situation, including resolution 1402 (2002), which was adopted early last Saturday morning. 


Many speakers also stressed that there could be no military solution to the crisis and that peace could only be achieved through negotiations and full compliance with international law.  The need for the Council to shoulder its full responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security in the Middle East and to assure the implementation of its decisions was also called for by many, as was the need for some type of international monitoring force.


Among its provisions, resolution 1402 (2002) calls for:  both parties to move immediately to a meaningful ceasefire; the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah; and full cooperation with Special Envoy General Anthony Zinni, and others, to implement the Tenet security work plan as a first step towards implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement.


At the outset of the debate, the Permanent Observer for Palestine told the Council the Israeli forces had widened the scope of their operations, reoccupying several cities.  Their forces had continued the commitment of heinous crimes, including those of war and State terrorism.  The Council must seriously follow up on the implementation of resolution 1402 (2002), so that all its provisions would be put into force immediately.  The Arab Group had proposed a text to the Council to that effect, but some Council members had said it was still too early to take action. He appealed to the Council members to adopt the draft as soon as possible.


__________


*     The 4503rd, 4504th and 4505th meetings were closed.


Israel’s representative said, “Make no mistake:  our hand remains extended in peace; our immediate objective remains the achievement of a ceasefire; and our ultimate goal is the conclusion of a comprehensive and final settlement to the conflict.”  Anyone who did not believe that, including the Palestinians, should “put us to the test of peace”.  He urged the international community to call for an immediate ceasefire and begin implementing the Tenet and Mitchell plans.  “Let us discover what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meant by a willingness to undertake painful compromises.”  No one should doubt that when the violence and terror ended, so would the need for further Israeli military action, he said.


Tunisia’s representative, Chairman of the Arab Group, said the recourse to force would not assure peace for Israel; it could lead to a flare up in the region as a whole.  There was no alternative to the withdrawal of all Israel forces from occupied Palestinian territories and the lifting of the siege against President Arafat.  The Arab States hoped that the Council would now call for the immediate implementation of resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002), without any ambiguity, as called for by the Secretary-General and the previous Council President.


The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite the setbacks in the region, the Movement remained convinced that it was possible to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the crisis.  However, the trauma, intense mistrust and fear generated by the current spasm of terrorist acts and military attacks would not be easily overcome.  A credible, multinational mechanism would be required on the ground to monitor the implementation of agreements between the two parties, he stressed.


Terror and violence must stop, said Spain’s representative, speaking for the European Union and associated States.  There was no military solution to the conflict.  Peace and security for both parties could only be achieved through negotiations.  In that regard, it was essential to address and implement security, political and economic measures, in parallel and simultaneously, in a single process. 


All manifestations of aggression against Palestine were “doomed to failure” because the Palestinians would stand forcefully in the face of aggression, the Egyptian representative said.  Occupation was the basis of the problem and must be terminated immediately if the region was to enjoy stability and calm.  Many Israeli leaders spoke of peace and a desire to live in harmony with the Palestinians, but those were claims that “no one in their right mind could any longer believe”. 


Syria’s representative said the Council should send a message to Israel that it should withdraw immediately from the occupied territories, lift the siege against the Palestinian leaders, and put an end to the killing of innocent civilians.  His delegation would submit a draft resolution on behalf of the Arab Group aiming at the implementation of previous Council resolutions.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Ukraine, Iran, Japan, Yemen, Libya, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Brazil, Pakistan, Cuba, Jordan, Kuwait, Namibia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco,


(page 1b follows)


Iraq, Mauritania, India, Costa Rica, Oman, Bahrain, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Djibouti, Bhutan, Qatar, New Zealand, Cyprus, Lebanon, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Singapore, Bulgaria, United States, Norway, France, Cameroon, China, Mauritius, Mexico, Guinea and the Russian Federation.


The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke.


The meeting was called to order at 10:45 a.m. and suspended at 1:35 p.m.  It resumed at 3:15 p.m. and suspended again at 8:15 p.m. 


Background


The Security Council met this morning to take up the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.  It had before it a letter from the Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations, who is currently Chairman of the Arab Group, requesting that a meeting be held to discuss that situation (document S/2002/336).  Also before it was a letter from the Permanent Representative of South Africa, Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, which also contains a request that the Council convene a meeting (document S/2002/342).


Statements


SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), Council President, thanked Ole Peter Kolby (Norway) for his work as Council President for the month of March.


NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said the Council was meeting at the request of the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement –- a request he highly valued.  He appreciated the Council members’ handling of the crisis and their quick adoption of resolution 1402 (2002).  Three days ago, Ariel Sharon had delivered another “crazy statement”, to be added to his other ominous statements, in which he had spoken of war and of war alone.  It seemed as if he was determined to “take us all to the precipice of war in the Middle East”.  Yesterday, he had added another “insolent and crazy” statement, when he had suggested that Mr. Arafat leave his home. 


The Israelis had widened the scope of their operations, reoccupying several cities, he said.  Their forces had continued the commitment of heinous crimes, including those of war and State terrorism.  The occupation authorities had shelled individuals and sites with heavy weaponry and helicopters, and had prevented ambulance teams from reaching their destinations.  A military siege had been imposed against the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  The authorities had prevented the press from being present in Ramallah and had declared the city a military zone.  Water and power had been interrupted, a curfew imposed and homes stormed.  He was ready to provide the Council with all the developments.


The Israeli occupation authorities continued to occupy Mr. Arafat’s headquarters, he said.  He noted the dangers entailed in such practices, which threatened the personal safety of Mr. Arafat, the symbol of Palestinian identity.  The continuation of the attacks would lead to a point of no return and should be rejected by the international community.


Yesterday, Mr. Sharon had attempted to link what Israel was trying to do with what the United States had done in Afghanistan, he said.  This was “cheap political prostitution” and exploited the suffering that had occurred following the 11 September attacks in the United States.  He condemned all terrorist attacks in their entirety.  Israel remained an occupation force.  Hundreds of thousands of Israelis had been transferred to the occupied territories to settle them.  Israel was the sole occupying Power in the world.  It had yet to stop violating international law and the relevant Council resolutions. 


On the one side was a State carrying out actions, and on the other were fringe elements committing acts that were condemned by the Palestinians, he said.  That was the true situation.  The Council must seriously follow up on the implementation of resolution 1402 so that all its provisions would be put into force immediately.  The Arab Group had proposed a text to that effect, but other Council members said it was still too early.  He appealed to the Council members to adopt the draft resolution as soon as possible. 


The Council must consider the way it could help push things forward, he said.  One such way was the presence on the ground of an international third party-monitoring body.  He expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by the Secretary-General to help resolve the situation.  He called on the Council to support the position he had taken that underlined the need to address both the political and security aspects of the situation if a solution was to be found.


YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said the meeting was taking place at a critical moment for the peoples of the Middle East.  In the past seven days, there had been seven Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, killing over 40 people and wounding well over 100.  On its northern border, Hezbollah was attacking Israeli positions for the second day.  Yesterday, he had met in the Council Chamber and had had a constructive discussion on how to address the situation and how to best move forward.  He appreciated members’ willingness to engage in a frank and open exchange of views in a spirit of dialogue.


He said that Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), which Israel fully accepted, had been discussed.  His country was fully willing to implement the text, including the call for a cessation of hostilities and full implementation of the Tenet plan and Mitchell report.  Indeed, his country had begun taking concrete steps in that direction prior to the Passover massacre last week.  However, every Israeli concession had been met with terrorism.  He had also discussed resolution 1402 (2002), which Israel “had not rejected”.  He recognized the positive elements, namely, the call for a complete and meaningful ceasefire, which would lead to the withdrawal of Israeli troops. 


No one should doubt that when the violence and terror ended, so would the need for further Israeli military action, he said.  Those resolutions embodied the elements of the Tenet and Mitchell plans, which Israel had shown its willingness to implement; it awaited a reciprocal Palestinian response.  It was widely believed that the obstacle to a ceasefire, from the Palestinian perspective, was the lack of a “political horizon”.  There was broad international consensus, including among Israelis, that the Palestinians were entitled to establish their own independent State, as laid out in various texts, including Security Council resolution 1397 (2002).  That was the political horizon. 


He said, however, that even when there was the clearest and brightest political horizon, the Palestinians had done nothing to curb the violence and terrorism.  Even after the most far-reaching proposal by Israel made at Camp David, the Palestinians launched attacks threatening the lives of Israelis.  The international community must recognize that the Palestinians had made a strategic choice to engage in terrorism for the achievement of their political objectives.  Their true strategy was playing itself out on television daily, and to gruesome effect.  In that light, Israel had had no choice but to exercise its right and duty under international law to defend itself.  No State would tolerate continued daily assaults and suicidal terrorism on the streets of its cities. 


Israel would continue to do what it deemed necessary to protect itself against that threat, he went on.  “Make no mistake:  our hand remains extended in peace; our immediate objective remains the achievement of a ceasefire; and our ultimate goal is the conclusion of a comprehensive and final settlement to the conflict”, he said.  Anyone who did not believe that, including the Palestinians, should “put us to the test”.  “Let us call for an immediate ceasefire and begin implementing Tenet and Mitchell plans; let us discover what Sharon meant by a willing to undertake painful compromises.”  “Put us to the test of peace”, he emphasized.


Concerning the draft resolution calling for immediate implementation of resolution 1402 (2002), he said that if the Council were to act in a balanced and responsible manner, it must include, besides the demand for the text’s immediate implementation, a call for the Palestinian side to cease immediately the Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel.  That would not only be a more fair and balanced position, but could be the impetus needed to achieve a genuine ceasefire, begin the withdrawal of Israeli troops and put both parties back on the path to dialogue and the final achievement of peaceful coexistence.


NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia), Chairman of the Arab Group, said the meeting was taking place in light of the dangerous deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, despite the recent Council action on the subject.  The immediate rejection of resolution 1402 by Israel and the dangerous action of their forces represented a flagrant defiance of international law.  The policy of the Israeli Government was based on the rejection of the peace option and Arab or other initiatives that could lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. 


The fact that Mr. Sharon had suggested ejecting Mr. Arafat from his country represented a new development and confirmed that he was continuing his policy of physical elimination, and that he was perpetrating war crimes.  The recourse to force would not assure peace for Israel –- it could lead to a flare-up in the region as a whole.  There was no alternative other than the withdrawal of all Israel forces from occupied Palestinian territories and the lifting of the siege against Mr. Arafat.  The Arab States hoped that the Council would now call for the immediate implementation of resolutions 1397 and 1402, without any ambiguity, as called for by the Secretary-General and the previous Council President.


VALERY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said his country condemned in the strongest terms possible the recent terrorist acts in Israel, specifically in Netanya, Jerusalem and Haifa.  Nothing could justify the killings of innocent civilians.  He called on Palestinian leaders to take urgent action to prevent terrorist acts and stop terrorist networks.  Those networks endangered prospects for peace in the region and failed to bring the Palestinian people closer to their legitimate wish for their own State.


However, one could not realistically demand that the Palestinian Authority and its elected Chairman, Yasser Arafat, fight terror while eliminating their ability to do so.  Israel must stop its devastating raids into Palestinian-controlled territory, excessive use of force and attacks on heavily populated areas.  He urged Israel to end its military attack against the headquarters of Yasser Arafat and withdraw its forces from Ramallah and other Palestinian cities.


Last week, the Summit of the Arab League offered to establish normal relations with Israel and provide security for all States in the region, in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied since 1967 and its acceptance of the Palestinian State, he said.  On the eve of the Summit, the Security Council had adopted resolution 1397, affirming a region where two States -- Israel and Palestine -- would live side by side within secure and recognized borders.  Those positive and encouraging steps should not fall victim to deadly explosives or shells.  Council decisions should not be ignored when, at last, it had become fully engaged in settling the conflict.  Of particular importance was mobilizing and coordinating international diplomatic efforts aimed at resuming peace negotiations, since the parties evidently could not achieve that on their own.


AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the Council was meeting to help find a way out of the tragic situation faced by Palestinians.  The Israeli defiance of Security Council resolutions, lastly 1402 (2002), would lead to further deterioration of the peace and security Israel claimed to be seeking.  The security of the Israelis could not be realized unless security for the Palestinians was also realized.  Peace would not be achieved unless the Palestinian people had their rights in full.  The Council must call for the immediate Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and for a lift of the siege imposed on Palestinian cities, and put an end to all forms of aggression against the Palestinians and its legitimate leadership.


He said that the Israeli Government must realize that all manifestations of aggression against Palestine were “doomed to failure” because the Palestinians would stand forcefully in the face of aggression.  Occupation was the basis of the problem; it must be terminated immediately if the region was to enjoy stability and calm.  Many Israeli leaders spoke of peace and a desire to live in harmony with the Palestinians, but those were claims that “no one in their right mind could any longer believe”.  No peace could be built on an attempt to subdue Palestinians or subject them to forceful colonialism, with the use of armed force as a way of life.


The Israelis were asking for peace with a condition that was tantamount to transforming the Palestinian people into negligible groups living in unacceptable conditions, or refugees exiled from their land, or prisoners of aggression and tyranny.  Barbarism, at best, was the occupation of the territories of another; it was in settler colonialism, or the killing of those that resisted or opposed.  He thought that had been left behind some 57 years ago.  The Israelis spoke of democracy and the free world.  To them, he would say that the free world does not occupy the territories of others by force or subjugate them to occupation.  Similarly, true democracies did not occupy the territories of others or aggress against what was not rightfully theirs. 


He said the Israelis should stop the lies since they can no longer convince anyone.  The situation called for a very thorough look.  Egypt called for an international action, through the Council, that would realize a final and comprehensive settlement.  To realize that objective, agreement must be reached on the following elements:  the need for the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories as at 5 June 1967; establishment of an independent sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital; security arrangements for all on an equal footing; and the establishment of comprehensive peaceful relations and good neighbourliness among the States of the region.  

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), for the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Iceland and Turkey, said terror and violence must stop.  There was no military solution to the conflict.  Peace and security for both parties could only be achieved through negotiations.  In that regard, it was essential to address and implement security, political and economic measures, in parallel and simultaneously, in a single process.  Both recent Council resolutions must be implemented immediately.  He noted the common understanding that operative paragraph 1 of Council resolution 1402 did not indicate any sequence of the elements listed in the text.


The Union condemned in the most categorical terms the latest terrorist attacks and reiterated its demand to the Palestinian Authority and Mr. Arafat to adopt all possible measures to stop the spiral of violence, dismantle all terrorist networks and ensure that perpetrators of the attacks of recent days did not remain unpunished.  However, the legitimate fight of Israel against terrorism and the reaction to the brutal attacks also must be compatible with the effective operating capacity of the Palestinian Authority and of its Chairman, legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.  That capacity must not be weakened.  The Union, therefore, urged an end to the occupation of the Ramallah headquarters and to the isolation and restrictions of movement of Chairman Arafat.  It also called for the immediate withdrawal of Israel forces.


He welcomed the resolution of the Arab League meeting in Beirut as a solid basis for progress towards a political perspective for a fair and global peace in the region, and the establishment of normal relations between Israel and the Arab world.  In the face of escalating violence, the Union remained convinced that a third party-monitoring mechanism was called for.  The Union stood ready to help participate in such a mechanism.


HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that the bloody campaign against defenceless civilians in the occupied territories was continuing unabated.  Palestinians were trapped and besieged by Israeli tanks and other state-of-the-art weaponry.  All-out repression, the excessive use of force, collective punishment against an entire people had fuelled the endless cycle of violence capable of engulfing the entire Middle East region.  Public opinion around the world found the atrocities by the Israeli troops increasingly appalling.  The Israeli regime, in order to conceal its crimes in the Palestinian territories, was discouraging journalists from covering the aggression and its severe impact on civilians.


He said that decades of struggle by the Palestinian people to exercise  their right to self-determination had demonstrated that the repressive policy, atrociously employed by the Zionists, had thus far hardened Palestinians’ resolve.  The intensity of their resistance to Israeli occupation was unprecedented in the past half-century.  Evidently, it put the “occupiers” on notice that, unless the aspirations of the Palestinians were realized and their rights restored, they should expect graver consequences by the day. 


In the midst of the current tragic events, the international community must contemplate the reasons that prompted Palestinian teenagers and youngsters to sacrifice their lives, he said.  Their exceptional response reflected the equally exceptional ruthlessness of the crimes committed against the Palestinian people over a very long period of time.  Undoubtedly, “playing the blame game” and resorting to repetitious and superficial rhetoric leading to terrorism led nowhere.  Each time the Israelis bulldozed more Arab homes or killed Palestinians, they created more militants.  What was unfolding in the Palestinian territories was a struggle for national liberation and the right of self-determination.


By strengthening its occupation and refusing to implement Council resolution 1402 (2002), the Israeli regime was bluntly defying the will of the international community.  Those who sometimes baselessly interpreted Council resolutions to advance their own narrow interests were now “grasping at straws for flouting the letter and spirit of a clear-cut resolution”, he said.  Selective enforcement of the Council’s resolutions would undermine the overall system of international security.  He urged the Council to heed the call of the international community, live up to its Charter responsibility and take further effective action to halt the ongoing bloody military actions against the Palestinian people.  If the Council did not put an end to repugnant Israeli actions against the Palestinian people, then more bloodshed might lie ahead. 


YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said he had found it embarrassing to choose between the two seats at the Council table –- one on the side of Israel and one on the side of the Observer for Palestine.  Where he was sitting was simply a question of sheer convenience, he stressed.  He hoped that the Council would find a way for speakers to sit in a more politically comfortable way.  His Government was gravely concerned by the situation.  He was particularly concerned over the killing of innocent civilians.  He extended his deep condolences to all the victims and their families.  It was deplorable that these events were taking place in the context of the peace initiatives in the region, including the recent Council resolutions and the Arab initiative.


He condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism aimed at civilians.  His Government had urged the Palestinian Authority to act immediately against those responsible for such acts and had also urged the Israeli Government to exercise restraint.  Mr. Arafat was the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, he stressed.  The Council had sent a strong message to both parties to put an end to the cycle of violence through the adoption of resolution 1402.  To support United States Envoy General Zinni’s mission, Japan had dispatched an envoy to the region.


ABDALLA SALEH AL-ASHTAL (Yemen) said the Secretary-General’s positions with respect to the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories had been characterized by wisdom and courage, and a sense of responsibility.  The explosive situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was increasingly dangerous.  Since Israel had begun to wage a wide-ranging war against Palestinians, the world was witnessing genuine tragedy.  Israeli tanks and warplanes attacked Palestinian cities, and the headquarters of the elected Palestinian President was under complete siege.


He said that the Council was meeting today, first, because the Israeli acts of aggression had expanded and widened in scope, threatening regional peace and security.  Also, Israel had refused to accept resolution 1402 (2002), even though its representative today had claimed verbally that Israel accepted the text.  It had refused to implement the call for a simultaneous ceasefire and withdrawal of forces from Palestinian cities.  The withdrawal must take place immediately, but for more than 96 hours the resolution remained a “dead letter”.  Instead, Israel had re-invaded other cities in a wide plan to reoccupy Palestinian cities.  It was also attempting to undermine the national Palestinian authorities and destroy its infrastructures.


Arab public opinion boiled over as it watched television screens showing the criminal acts perpetrated by the Israeli army, he went on.  He wished the Council had seen those pictures of such inhumane acts as assassinations and attacks on ambulances.  Denunciation had not come only from the Arab world, but from around the world.  The Council should reaffirm its resolution 1402 (2002) and the need to deploy international peacekeeping forces and observers to supervise the withdrawal and separate the two parties.  The defenceless Palestinians could not defend themselves against that drastic imbalance of military force.  The Council must take a strong stand to compel Israel to respect the recent resolutions.


ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said might had become right.  He challenged anyone to come forward with any map throughout history with the word Israel on it.  Throughout history, that name had never been applied to a single inch of land.  There had never been a State called Israel on the land of Palestine.  It was necessary to differentiate between nationalism, nationhood and religion.  Practising a religion did not mean someone was not a citizen of a nation. 

Mr. Sharon had never been a Palestinian.  Mr. Netanyahu had been an American.  Jesus, he noted, had been born in Palestine.  Where did faith connect to nationality? he asked.  Palestine was for Palestinians –- Muslim, Christian or Jewish.


Talk had been made of peace, he said.  The Palestinians had been told to put their liberation efforts aside and take a seat at the negotiating table, and they had done so, from Oslo, through Madrid, to Camp David.  Had they obtained anything? he asked.  No, was the answer.  He showed a map contained in an issue of Time magazine to members and said that the Palestinian territories had been filled with settlements.  The Palestinians were forced to emigrate or be exiled from their land.  Those that had been exiled were prohibited from returning.  The lands where the settlements had been built were owned by Palestinians.  What was left for them? he asked.  What could they build a State on? 


The terrorist who was doing the occupying had been given the right to defend himself by others, he said.  Where was the logic in that? he asked.  Such logic had turned young girls and boys into martyrs.  They chose death to free their land, and to defend themselves and their freedom.  He had said previously that the region was pregnant, and that no one could say whether the child to be would be sound or not.  He assured members that the child would not be sound.  Legitimacy had been bestowed on all forces, including religious extremist organizations.  An Arab President had been detained.  An Arab people’s dignity was being overrun by tanks on their own land.  The Council must take the issue up as an issue of occupation –- the last case of occupation on the globe. 


GABRIEL VALDEZ (Chile) said he associated himself with the statement that would be made on behalf of the Rio Group.  He condemned both the horrific suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, as well as the military action perpetrated against Palestinian citizens, with intolerable costs.  He also condemned the confinement of Chairman Arafat.  Indeed, he joined the broad-based clamour, which repudiated that spiral of violence and called for its immediate cessation.  The violence was moving incrementally and dangerously, imperilling efforts to achieve peace.  The refusal of the parties to comply with Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) was seriously affecting the United Nations’ ability to act as an indispensable tool to find a solution to the crisis.  It was also affecting the ability of other Member States to comply with the Charter’s objectives. 


He said that only implementation of the Tenet plan and Mitchell report would forge a way to peace.  In view of the current serious situation, however, the focus must be on creating a minimal degree of trust between the parties to enable them to move forward towards implementing a real ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.  The Israeli Government must end the bellicose action perpetrated against the Palestinian Authority.  That required the presence of a third actor in the field with a  clear-cut mandate granted by the Council to monitor compliance with the agreed provisions of a ceasefire.  The Council must do its utmost to promote that initiative, as only a just and lasting peace in the Middle East would do. 


The Palestinian Authority continued to be the legitimate party, and thus, the physical integrity of its Chairman should be preserved and his freedom of movement restored.  Then, the Palestinians could set up an independent, viable and democratic State, and Israel could live within secure and internationally recognized borders.  Chile had both Palestinian and Israeli citizens, which had contributed considerably to its cultural development.  He sought an end to that bloodletting in that very holy land.  The Council should be able to adopt unanimously agreed measures leading to implementation of its resolutions, in  order to promote a just and lasting solution to the conflict and an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories.


DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said there could be no military solution to the Middle East conflict, emphasizing that occupation, settlement activities and collective punishment of the Palestinian people were the root cause of violence and insecurity in the region.  It was deeply distressing that the Israeli Government was responding to the symptoms of its own military occupation with disproportionate lethal force, he said.


He said Israel's decision to destroy Palestinian infrastructure, to humiliate Palestinian civilians and to threaten the life of their legitimate, elected and internationally recognized leader could not be justified as acts of counter-terrorism or self-defence.  Israel's militaristic approach was all the more inexplicable and inexcusable since it was taking place amid renewed international efforts to mediate a peaceful solution to the conflict.


South Africa found it inexplicable that Israel had prevented President Arafat from travelling to Beirut to endorse the Saudi initiative, he went on.  That short-sighted and provocative action played right into the hands of extremists whose sole goal was to prevent the creation of conditions that would allow a ceasefire and forward movement towards a substantial dialogue about peace, in line with the requirements of the Mitchell report.


He said it was deeply troubling that precisely when the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships were discussing with General Zinni the establishment of conditions for a ceasefire, extremists had once again targeted Israeli civilians in attacks that had left scores of dead and injured.  Israel's response had once again been the predictable massive military escalation witnessed in the past, which sought to target President Arafat as an enemy, to destroy Palestinian infrastructure and to bludgeon the Palestinian people into submission.


Despite those setbacks, he said, the Non-Aligned Movement remained convinced that it was possible to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the crisis.  However, the trauma, intense mistrust and fear generated by the current spasm of terrorist acts and military attacks would not be easily overcome.  A credible, multinational mechanism would be required on the ground to monitor the implementation of agreements between the two parties, he stressed.


FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said the bloody events in occupied Palestine confirmed that Israel did not desire peace.  The current Prime Minister had practised inhumane repression.  State terrorism was not a matter of self-defence –- it was a protection of the occupation.  Israel had no legitimate right in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.  Palestinians were duty-bound to attempt to liberate their land. 


The Palestinians had resorted to resistance after long years of frustration, he said.  There had been no way to move forward but through intifada, once the Council had failed to implement its resolutions or send a monitoring party to the region.  What could the Palestinians do when the international community had turned a deaf ear to their situation? he asked.  The aggressive behaviour of the Israeli Government showed how far it had strayed from dialogue and the search for peace.  The idea that Israeli might could stifle the cause of the Palestinians was ridiculous, he stressed.  The struggle of peoples under occupation would eventually be rewarded.


Crown Prince Abdullah, Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, had presented a peace initiative for the Middle East region, which had been adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut.  He hoped the Israeli people would not let another opportunity for peace go to waste.  Security could not be achieved by aggression, he said.  He called on the Israelis to immediately implement the provisions of the recent Council resolutions and for the Council to dispatch observers to the region.


ALTAY CENGIZER (Turkey) said he aligned himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union.  It should be a sobering call on both parties to assume their responsibilities to their people and towards the international community.  The eruption of the dangerously escalating conflict was more dangerous than many could allow themselves to fathom, and it was getting out of hand by the hour. It was not only the Israelis and the Palestinians that were “sitting on a crack”, but the whole region.  The present situation was particularly unbearable to Turkey, which had a historical and cherished relationship with the Middle East region.  Recent events had made it clear that the parties could not be left to their own devices; the international community, and particularly the United States, had a responsibility to intervene to draw the parties back to the negotiation process.


He said that the “entire geography” was being dragged towards a major crisis that might lead to an unthinkable collapse of stability.  That was reason enough for the United States, which had played a principal role in all previous peace initiatives there, not to pause in carrying out its responsibility.  Its influence should be brought to bear to open up the prospects for peace.  Turkey vehemently condemned the terror being perpetrated through suicide bombings, and it fully shared the agony of the Israeli people.  At the same time, it strongly protested the treatment of Chairman Arafat; no one had the right to commit such disrespect to a nation’s elected leader and dismantle the administrative apparatus.  Security Council resolution 1402 (2002) must be implemented forthwith. 


ABDULLAH KHAMIS AL-SHAMSHI (United Arab Emirates) said the Council again met in exceptionally grave circumstances.  After more than one and half years of Israeli military occupation, despite the call of the international community to respect Council resolutions, he had been astonished to see the persistence of the Israeli Government.  The war declared by Mr. Sharon against the Palestinians was not new -– it was merely a new episode in the chain of criminal acts perpetrated by Mr. Sharon, who was known for his hatred of Arabs.  Everyone knew what

Mr. Sharon and his war machine were perpetrating, particularly in Ramallah, which was closed to ambulances. 


The Israelis had cut water and electricity, had invaded homes and destroyed houses of worship, among other actions, he said.  The pretext of security and counter-terrorism could not be believed by the international community, which was daily witnessing Israeli war crimes.  The international community and the Council must immediately differentiate between the State terrorism and war crimes of Israel and the legitimate struggle of the defenceless Palestinian people.  He called on the Council and all States of influence to shoulder their political, legal and ethical responsibilities. 


The international community should reject the Israeli actions in the strongest terms, he said.  They should also demand an immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal, and international observers should be allowed into the occupied territories.  Israel should be compelled to pay compensation to the Palestinians.  Among the other things he called for was support for the peace initiative adopted by the recent Arab Summit.


HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that, with the all-out military onslaught mounted by the Israeli armed forces against Palestinian towns and cities, and the siege being laid on the headquarters of President Yasser Arafat, the intent of the Israeli Government had become “crystal clear”.  Its objective, carried out in the name of destroying the so-called “infrastructure of terrorism” was to dismember and dismantle the infrastructure of the Palestinian National Authority and cripple its leadership.  In so doing, it was destroying the very foundations of political dialogue between the two sides and, by isolating President Arafat and rendering him “irrelevant”, it was tearing up all the agreements and accords arrived at between the two sides since the beginning of the peace process. 


He said that the situation in Palestine was of grave concern to the international security, especially to the Islamic countries.  The Council should give serious consideration to the statement of the Organization of Islamic Conference, which, among its other salient points, strongly condemned the recent Israeli storming of Palestinian cities and villages and requested the Security Council and the European Union, as the two sponsors of the peace process, to assume their responsibility to immediately stop the Israeli aggression and effect the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all occupied Arab and Palestinian territories.  Indeed, the Council must exercise its responsibility under the Charter and take immediate action to stop the carnage. 


The Council must act promptly to save the Palestinian people and its imperilled leadership, he continued.  While he welcomed the adoption of Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) as positive steps in addressing the situation, he called on the Council to back its pronouncements with immediate and concrete action.  It must follow up those resolutions, in particular, resolution 1402 (2002), which called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.  The Council must not allow itself to be sidelined again.  Taking no action was tantamount to condoning the aggressive policies and actions of the Israeli Government, and worse still, allowing the situation to explode into a catastrophe of monumental proportions, which everyone would regret. 


GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) called upon the parties to comply, immediately and thoroughly, with resolutions 1397 and 1402, especially in regard to establishing a meaningful ceasefire.  Disproportionate and lethal use of force by Israel, as well as unacceptable acts of terrorism and suicidal bombings by Palestinian militants, only jeopardized even further any prospect for a political and lasting settlement to the conflict in the Middle East.  He was dismayed that the two parties were clearly failing to keep the course towards a negotiated solution for the conflict, and that their daily attitude towards each other seemed to be crafted so as to make that goal even more distant.


He said his Government remained faithful to the aspiration of a State of Israel existing within secure and recognized borders, as well as of an independent, democratic and economically viable State of Palestine.  No military solution could ever bring about that vision.  The practical question before the Council today was what it should now do in order to further the cause of reason and peace.  There should be more actual involvement of the Council on the ground.  It had a special responsibility to use its legitimate tools to demand compliance with its decisions. 


He said it was the Council’s duty to call upon the representatives of Israel and Palestine to explain -– at the highest possible level –- what they were effectively doing to respond to the Council’s demands.  An international presence with the full backing of the United Nations was indispensable.


SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said Security Council resolution 1402 had been adopted to reverse the spiralling tide of violence and bloodshed in the Middle East. However, there had been no let-up in the scale of carnage, with more people dying and violence generating more violence.  That demonstrated how helpless the Security Council had become and how scant the respect for its decisions.


Continued violence was alarmingly indicative of the Council's inability to uphold its moral authority and Charter obligations, he continued.  It was time to seriously address the question of implementing outstanding Council resolutions without selectivity or discrimination.


He strongly urged all concerned to fulfil their Charter obligations and take necessary steps to implement Council resolutions 1397 and 1402.  That would ensure an immediate ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, and a resumption of the peace process, including implementation of the Tenet work plan and Mitchell report recommendations.

When the meeting resumed at 3:15 p.m., ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said the news arriving from the occupied territories remained horrifying.  The Member States of the United Nations remained aware of the inability of the Council to carry out its functions, as set out in the Organization’s Charter.  The situation deteriorated minute by minute, and nothing happened.  Chairman Arafat had been put in danger, and nothing was done.  There were closed-door meetings of the Council, and nothing happened.  Resolution 1402 (2002) was pallid and ambiguous –- even its timid language was not implemented. 


The pretexts being brandished to justify the situation indicated the double standards of those who threatened or used veto power to paralyse action, he said.  In recent days, the international community had heard about how the issue of terrorism was manipulated.  There were no valid pretexts to justify massacres, forced exile, attacks on religious sanctuaries, torture, maltreatment, among others.  Nothing could justify that an entire people was denied its elementary rights.  The Council must put an end to Israel’s policy of ignoring Council resolutions.  The world could not remain a passive spectator of the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East. 


An international force, mandated by the Council, must be deployed to ensure effective compliance of the resolutions adopted, he said.  The policy of aggression against the Arab people, especially the Palestinians, must cease, he stressed.  The only path to lasting peace was negotiation.  The Council must fully carry out its obligations and prevent the consummation of the genocide that was taking place behind walls of silence.


ZAID AL-HADIDI (Jordan) said he forcefully condemned the most recent Israeli operations against Palestinian President Arafat.  Those measures were a dangerous development, which was threatening regional security and was likely to sow chaos.  Such acts of aggression, including threatening a high number of innocent civilians, would never guarantee security for Israel.  In addition, they were a flagrant violation of agreements concluded between the two parties and of international humanitarian law and the relevant international instruments. 


He also condemned the targeting and killing of civilians by both parties.  The Jordanian trade office had been attacked and destroyed by Israeli forces, which he also vigorously condemned.  International forces must be deployed to protect the Palestinian people and its legitimate leadership and national institutions.  He urged the Council to demand that Israel withdraw from the territories and implement Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).  Israel must also be urged to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilians.  All Council resolutions calling for the creation of an independent State of Palestine must also be respected.


MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said it was deplorable that the Council was meeting today not to examine positive developments, but rather to consider the Israeli Government’s refusal to implement the two recent Council texts.  The ambitions of Israel involved putting an end to the Palestinian people, as well as the Palestinian Authority and its leader.  The two Council texts had been positive steps, which had highlighted the scope of the tragedy.


Mr. Sharon was violating the most basic principles of international law, he said.  To prevent an explosion in the situation, the Council must adopt resolute measures.  It must condemn Israel’s pursuit of a policy of barbarous violence against the Palestinian people.  The Israeli Government must stop flouting the Council’s resolutions and must be ordered to respect the will of the international community.  An international contingent must be sent to the area as soon as possible to calm things down.


The Council, today more than ever, would have to play its legitimate role and implement the message of peace announced by the Arab Summit in Beirut, which had demonstrated that the Arab world rejected war and embraced peace.  Israel had rejected that initiative.  If the Council did not act, the consequences were inconceivable.  It might become impossible to solve the problem if it went on longer.  The conflict had been caused by the illegal occupation by Israel of Arab land.  Israel must be compelled to withdraw from all occupied territories and move behind the pre-1967 border.


MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the latest aggravation of the Middle East crisis was the provocative visit of the present Prime Minister of Israel to

Al-Haram al-Sharif on 28 September 2000.  It was clear that he had succeeded in destroying all achievements towards peace and preventing further progress in the peace process.


Today, he continued, Israel was expanding its illegal occupation by reoccupying Palestinian land. Massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law had been committed, and extrajudicial killings by Israeli occupying forces were continuing.  The international community should exert all pressure on Israel to ensure that those illegal acts were stopped.


The Palestinian people had the right to their own State, just as Israel claimed the right to its existence, he said.  They also had the right to choose their own leaders.  The present attempt by Israel to force President Arafat to leave Palestine should be rejected with the contempt it deserved.  He called on both parties to comply with Security Council resolution 1402 (2002) and implement it fully.  He also called on Israel to embrace the initiative by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, which was adopted by the Arab League.  That would provide the light at the end of the tunnel in the current situation.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) said that the failed assassination attempt on Chairman Arafat last week had revealed the genuine intentions of the Israeli leadership, past and present.  He vigorously condemned the Israeli military escalation against the Palestinians, whose heroism should be hailed.  Chairman Arafat’s own firmness and endurance deserved the support and admiration of all.  International public opinion could no longer remain indifferent to the tragedy of the Palestinians, who were unable to defend themselves against the current bloody onslaught.  The Council, in particular, must take a stand regarding its own decisions and Israel’s lawlessness. 


How much longer must the world wait before the Council abandoned its double standards, which was preventing it from assuming its responsibility? he asked.  It was the moral authority of both the Council and the authors of the peace process to do so.  The situation in Palestine demanded implementation of the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.  The head of the Israeli Government had recently publicly declared that his country was at war.  There was a need, therefore, to put an end to the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people and assess the war crimes carried out by the Israeli forces.


With respect to the future of Palestine in the region, he said it was clear that Mr. Sharon wished to erect a wall of blood and hatred between the two societies.  He also wished to erect a wall of misunderstanding between Arabs and the United States.  Algeria called on the international community to realize the exceptional seriousness of the situation in Palestine, and reject the linkage the Israelis were trying to establish between the legitimate struggle of the Palestinians for self-determination and the international war against terrorism. 


Moreover, he continued, the international community, on numerous occasions, had proclaimed that weapons of mass destruction should not fall into irresponsible hands.  Today, he shared his deep concern regarding the possession of a formidable nuclear arsenal by Israel, which surely could not be described as a responsible State.  Future utilization of that arsenal against the Arab world was no longer a matter of speculation.


IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said a mighty military offensive unleashed against an entire civilian population -- inflicting horrific carnage and exacerbating occupation -– raged in Palestine, even as the Council had gathered today to address the situation in the Middle East.  Bangladesh shared the grave concerns of the wider international community that Council resolutions were being ignored, or even flouted.  People subject to aggression turned to the Council for protection.  It would surely erode belief in the entire system if the Council failed in that critical duty.


He also expressed concern that the continued bloodletting could further inflame passions in the region and beyond, leading to a crisis over which the major protagonists would have lost control.  Further, it was most disturbing that the relevant United Nations agencies, into which so many people put great hope, had been unable to surmount what appeared to be an intractable impasse.  What was happening today was contrary to all accepted values and must not be allowed to continue.


Bangladesh was all the more saddened because now, as at no other time, there appeared to be a broad agreement on the vision that was the ultimate solution, including the creation of two separate States for Israelis and Palestinians.  Consensus on that vision had not advanced the cause for peace, and Israel’s latest attack on Ramallah and other towns threatened to destroy any progress that had been made.  It was in that spirit that his country’s Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, had called for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Ramallah and other occupied territories.


He said it was time to go beyond mere platitudes and put in place effective mechanisms for implementing international decisions, namely, Council resolution 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).  The concept of an international force also merited serious consideration.  The Tenet plan and the Mitchell recommendations must be followed.  That remained the only path towards durable peace.  He believed a special mission of the Council to both Israel and the Palestinian-occupied territories could contribute significantly to stabilizing the situation.  He wondered further if it was also time to consider a visit to the region by the Secretary-General under the Council’s mandate.  “We have reached a stage where we cannot afford the luxury of discarding any alternative”, he said.


MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said that yesterday his Government had strongly condemned Israel’s military aggression.  Israeli policies posed a grave threat to the personal safety and security of President Arafat and to the very future of the entire Middle East peace process.  Further, it was unacceptable that the occupying Power justified its military action by using the issue of terrorism as a pretext to subvert the legitimate Palestinian cause.  The Council must take necessary and immediate measures to establish a clear mechanism to guarantee the full implementation of resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).


He reaffirmed his delegation’s support for all diplomatic efforts towards resuming political dialogue and reviving the peace process between the concerned parties.  Also, he fully supported the message of peace emanating from the Arab Summit, which reiterated that a lasting peace required the implementation of resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace.  That was the only viable path to ending the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.   He urged the Council to take all steps, including the urgent deployment of an international security force to the occupied Palestinian territories, to bring the conflict to a speedy end.


MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that in the three days since the adoption of resolution 1402 (2002), the crisis in the region had worsened.  No human being, regardless of affiliation, could accept the situation, which was threatening international peace and security.  The Council must shoulder its responsibilities and demand Mr. Sharon that he cease the killings and stop using force.


The present situation tested the credibility of the United Nations, and the Council in particular, he said.  Was it reasonable for a resolution adopted with the approval of all the permanent members of the Council to remain a dead letter for Israel? he asked.  Was it reasonable that international humanitarian law was being flouted by Israel?  The practice of collective punishment against the Palestinians was unacceptable. 


The best way to achieve a peace in the region was to send an international presence to the region.  Such a presence was needed to end the violence and had been called for by many in the international community.  He had recently taken the floor in the Council on behalf of the Arab Group to condemn terrorism.  He reiterated that condemnation, noting that Islam rejected violence.  Depriving a people of its daily basic needs and its children of the right to attend school and receive basic care could only lead to young people sacrificing their lives.  The present situation was a humiliation for all nations and all peoples.  The world could not limit itself to standing by as a witness to a policy aimed at silencing the Palestinian people and depriving it of its rights.  His country remained ready to participate in any and all efforts to extricate the region from the present deadlock.


ABDUL MUNIM AL-KADHE (Iraq) said that, despite the Council’s adoption of resolution 1402 (2002) -– weak in comparison to the crimes committed by the Zionist entity –- its representative had criticized and rejected it upon its adoption on 29 March.  The following day, the Zionist forces of occupation launched a wide-scale offensive against the Palestinian people and its leadership, and the Christian and Islamic sanctities.  The theoretical position of that Zionist entity, with respect to the Council’s resolutions and the bloody aggression on the ground, reflected its disrespect for the Council’s resolutions and its non-commitment to the provisions of Article 25 of the United Nations Charter.


Moreover, he continued, that reflected a total disregard of all appeals    by various parties to end its acts of aggression, and total disrespect for international commitments governing all civilized moral behaviour.  Those aggressive acts had revealed a total exposure of that party’s real face as a “terrorist racist entity”.  The Zionist entity and the United States attempted to justify the criminal actions of the Zionist entity by arguing self-defence.  That uninformed justification had no legal basis, whatsoever, and ran counter to interpretations by the International Court of Justice of the conditions for the exercise of such a right by States, individually or collectively. 


In so doing, they sought to transform that legal principle into a political means to justify acts of aggression, he said.  Such acts were conducted daily by the Zionist entity, as it continued to kill, butcher and starve the Palestinian people under the pretext of self-defence.  The result was that that entity was actually destroying the basic legal principles of the United Nations Charter and other established principles of accepted international law.  Certain Western countries, mainly the United States, had, for three years, advocated the idea of humanitarian intervention in order to justify their military actions in a number of areas around the world, with the Council’s approval. 


The fact that certain countries had not intervened to protect the basic human rights of Palestinians and prevent further violations of international law was categorical proof of a policy of double standards, the same policy adopted by the Security Council.  The Zionist entity was a “selfish racist regime” that was not concerned with world peace and sought to destroy all that human civilization had built.  It bore the historic responsibility for planting the seeds of terrorism in the Middle East over the past century and continued to adopt a policy of terror in all its forms.


MAHFOUDH OULD DEDDACH (Mauritania) noted that resolution 1402 (2002) had called for a withdrawal by Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories.  The Council must now, more than ever before, fulfil its duties under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The siege against the Palestinian people exposed them to great danger and a humanitarian catastrophe that must be resisted and rejected.  He demanded a full withdrawal of the Israeli forces and a return to the Madrid framework, as well as compliance with all international agreements and resolutions.  He stressed the need for international observers to provide protection to the unarmed Palestinians, for whom he expressed his full solidarity.


Mr. Arafat had been asked to undertake measures while he was under siege without power or water, he noted.  The seriously deteriorating situation required urgent Council action, especially to ensure the full implementation of resolution 1402 (2002)


A. GOPINATHAN (India) said that the task of achieving peace in the Middle East had become much more difficult.  His country was concerned about the safety and well-being of Yasser Arafat.  The killing of civilians on both sides had to be stopped.  His country stood by the people of Palestine in their hour of need and had indicated to leaders on both sides that India stood ready to do anything they deemed necessary.  President Arafat was the Palestinian authority, and subjecting him to the current treatment must stop, as well as all acts of terrorism.


He said that violence begetting violence was not an answer.  Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), as well as the Tenet plan and Mitchell report, and past Council resolutions could make peace a reality.  The immediate and effective implementation of resolution 1402 (2002) must be accomplished, in order to end the violence and resume the dialogue, leading to lasting peace and security for all in the region.


BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) expressed deep concern over the recent events and said, on behalf of the Rio Group, that peace between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples could only be attained through the peaceful settlement of disputes, as embodied in international law.  The Group welcomed the Council's adoption of resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002), which reaffirmed a vision of Israel and Palestine living peacefully next to one another within safe and recognized borders.


Noting that the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah provided new hope for peace, he called upon all States participating in the Middle East peace process to make the greatest political efforts to implement the Security Council's proposals.  The Rio Group also appealed to the parties in conflict to cease immediately all acts of violence and harassment, including terrorist acts and all kinds of provocation, as well as calls to violence and destruction.


He said that, under the present circumstances, it was indispensable that the parties in conflict comply immediately and unconditionally with recent Security Council resolutions; take steps to stop the spiral of violence and destruction; take concrete measures to re-establish confidence; and that they cooperate fully with the efforts of the Secretary-General and the four special envoys to reactivate the peace process.


MOHAMED AL-HASSAN (Oman) said he trusted that today’s meeting would lead to the adoption of resolutions it would be possible to implement.  The meeting was being held in response to the extremely dangerous situation in the region and arose out of Israel’s refusal to implement the recent Council resolutions.  It was not the first, second or even third time that it was necessary to appeal to the international community to protect against Israel’s arbitrariness.  The Council was responsible under the Charter for containing the present situation, which had led to towns and villages being besieged.


By the terms of resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002), the parties had been asked to refrain from violence and return to the negotiating table.  Israel had not implemented those texts.  What could the Council do about the situation? he asked.  He appealed to the Council to shoulder the full burden of its responsibility and seek to implement its resolutions with the same resolve it had displayed in other situations.  He called on it to put in place concrete measures that would protect the Palestinians.  The credibility of the Council was being tested today more than ever. 


He said the Palestinian land was occupied, and the Palestinian people bore the burden of occupation –- they must be protected by international law.  He appealed to the Council, in particular the permanent members, to address a message to Israel, in one voice, that it was not above the law.  The United States was not condemning Israel with the same force it was using to condemn Mr. Arafat, he said.  How could Mr. Arafat put an end to acts that had been unleashed by a sense of despair brought on by the occupation by Israel? he asked.  He hoped that the Council would be able to put an end to narrow political thinking and rise to the level of responsibility incumbent upon it.


MOHAMMED SALEH MOHAMMED SALEH (Bahrain) said that the present situation was deteriorating.  Israel had stepped up its aggression against the Palestinian people and invaded most of the territories of the Palestinian Authority, in order to destroy the infrastructure.  The arbitrary bombing and excessive use of force against a defenceless people had led to significant financial consequences, as well as ever more civilian victims.  Israel was continuing to surround Palestinian cities and starve and kill the people, without anyone being brought to justice. 


He said that no one knew how those terrorist acts by Israel would end.  The Israeli forces had prevented the wounded from getting to hospitals by thwarting the arrival of ambulances.  The occupying forces were shooting at ambulances at checkpoints, in direct contravention of the 1949 Geneva Convention, which demanded that necessary protection be provided to all individuals not participating in military operations.  Also, Israel was preventing inhabitants from burying their dead.  That also contravened Islamic precepts and was a flagrant violation of all international humanitarian norms. 


The Israeli occupying forces had been perpetrating actions that could only be described as war crimes, he said.  The present Israeli Government had sent up in smoke the dreams of the Millennium Summit.  The Israeli Prime Minister could not find in his vocabulary a way to cooperate with the Arab peace initiative, adopted at the Beruit Summit.  In his repertory, he had only State terrorism aimed at ending the peace process.  Israeli practices against Chairman Arafat -- the symbol of the Palestinian struggle and the elected leader of those people -- were “highly dangerous” and could destroy the entire region. 


He called on the international community to put an end to that Israeli aggression so that a catastrophe with irreparable and incalculable repercussions could be avoided.  He called for adherence to international humanitarian law, the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Palestinian villages and cities, and the lifting of the siege against Yasser Arafat.  He also called for the lifting of the siege in holy sites, both Islamic and Christian houses of prayer.


Finally, he said that Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) must be implemented.  That required the Council to take effective action to ensure that Israel respected those texts, which remained a dead letter.  The Council should also immediately send international observers to guarantee protection to Palestinian civilians.  History would not give the Council its due role unless it discharged its responsibility.  It was unacceptable for the Council to remain paralysed, while international peace and security was endangered.


ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said this was the second meeting of the Council on the subject of the Middle East in five days.  The situation in the territories was escalating dangerously, with Israel, the occupying Power, committing new massacres.  That took place with the knowledge of the entire world, which could follow the developments on television.  He would be grateful for a list of all the human rights violations perpetrated by Israel, including attacks on ambulances and the prevention of burials. 


The eyes of the entire world were now turned to the Council, he said.  Since Israel continued to flout the will of the international community, it was up to the Council to act immediately to oppose Israel, which had exceeded all limits with its acts of aggression.  The Council bore a moral responsibility, first and foremost, to stop the violence and the excessive use of force of the Israelis.  It should provide emergency protection by sending international monitors.


Some States were justifying what Israel was perpetrating –- namely, genocide, he said.  Children, women and the elderly were enduring the worst kind of abuse.  The Council should, therefore, take rapid action to address the situation.  If it did not, it was tantamount to saying that it refused to carry out its responsibilities.


The “war criminal Ariel Sharon” had rebuffed resolution 1402 (2002), he said.  Israel used a policy of repression against the defenceless Palestinian people.  Violence spawned violence, he stressed.  The mistaken justifications presented by Israel –- that its campaign was aimed at fighting terrorism –- were unacceptable.  It was the Palestinians who were fighting State terrorism.


DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) aligned himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that the situation was fast deteriorating.  Destruction of the Palestinian Authority could be construed to undermine any semblance of the right of the Palestinians to a State of their own.  The Israeli authorities had not made any statement to the contrary in the current campaign.  The right to self-determination was provided for in the Charter, and no amount of prevarication could diminish the determination of a people to free themselves and establish their own self-rule.


He said his Government was gravely concerned at the escalation of the violence and military incursions in the Palestinian Authority areas.  The incursions had been accompanied by the widespread destruction of hard-earned properties, and collective punishment was being visited on the Palestinian people, thereby violating their basic rights.  One need not emphasize the unequal strength of forces between the parties.  It was important to recognize that reality. 


The Council must take urgent action to stop the carnage, he said.  The requirements of security had to be balanced by an unequivocal assurance to the Palestinians that statehood was “around the corner” and both viable and respected.  Violence would not solve the Palestinian question or ensure Israel’s security.  Any meaningful resolution of the crisis must guarantee the authority and safety of Chairman Arafat.  The Council should have no ambiguity on that issue.


ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said the situation had worsened to an alarming and dangerous degree, with Israel expanding its military offensive.  Resolution 1402 (2002) was the best available instrument for addressing the situation.  The kind of terror inflicted on the Palestinian people and leadership in the last few days defied all imagination.  Mr. Sharon’s misguided display of military might could cripple the Palestinian infrastructure.  However, brute force would not kill the Palestinian spirit.


Both Palestinian and Israeli people had a right to live in peace and security, he said.  The current one-sided war would only worsen the suffering.  Security and peace must be addressed in parallel, he said.  The political aspirations of the Palestinians must be addressed at the same time as the security considerations of Israel.  He hoped the Council would live up to its obligations for the maintenance of peace and security.


OM PRADHAN (Bhutan) said he was alarmed by the escalating violence.  With all the authority and responsibility given to the Council, it had not been able to bring about a cessation to the terrible violence, let alone find a solution to the problem in the Middle East.  He was alarmed that the big Powers had not been able to move the parties to give up violence and find a solution through dialogue.


Hatred and violence begot hatred and violence, he said.  The cycle of violence must be broken.  The Council must not lose the opportunity before it.  He welcomed the initiative of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah and called on the peoples in the region to change their attitudes towards each other.  In a globalizing world, no peoples could be “an island unto themselves”.  He called on the Council to further intensify efforts to bring about an immediate cessation to the violence.


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said that everyone knew about the massive violations of international law being committed by Israel, as well as Israel's contempt for the Geneva Conventions of 1949.  Nevertheless, it was the Council that was responsible for what was happening in the occupied territories, ever since it declined to send observers and hesitated to adopt measures that Israel would reject.  Obviously, Israel did not want observers; it continued to flout Council resolutions, including 1402 (2002), which called upon it to withdraw from all Palestinian territories.


He said that some were trying to explain the Israeli onslaught by categorizing it as self-defence, but how could anyone think that setting fire to a neighbour’s land would bring peace?  Israel would never enjoy peace as long as it insisted on keeping the land.  The Arab leaders, in good faith, had spoken of their desire to have a relationship of good-neigbourliness with Israel, but the Middle East region was undergoing unprecedented tensions.  Indeed, it was about to explode.  Thus, every effort must be made to save what could be saved and bring Israel to fully implement resolution 1402 (2002).


DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said the issue under consideration was of the utmost gravity.  He deplored in the strongest terms the increased intensity of violence, which was putting a durable solution further out of reach.  He urged both sides to reflect on where the terrible violence was leading.  Together with other speakers, he called for full and immediate implementation and compliance with resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).  The international community had reflected in those resolutions its strong commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement in the Middle East.  He supported a two-State solution that recognized Israel’s right to secure, agreed borders and for Palestinians to have a viable State in which self-determination, social and economic progress could be achieved.


He reinforced the calls made by the European Union, Chile and others for the parties to accept observers.  A neutral third party-monitoring mechanism under a Council mandate would help support a ceasefire, and begin the rebuilding of trust between the parties.  The leadership of both parties must display a good faith return to the peace process and seek a durable solution based on respect for human rights and international law.  He called on both parties to turn their backs on violence and demonstrate a willingness to begin a process that might lead to durable peace.


SOTIRIOS ZACKHEOS (Cyprus) urged Israel to desist from the collective punishment and humiliation of the Palestinian population and avoid a disproportionate response to violence.  He called for full adherence to international law and international humanitarian law, including to the Fourth Geneva Convention.  In that regard, he was opposed to the illegal Israeli settlement activity.  Particularly alarming were reports of an impending operation against Palestinians who had sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity.  He urged respect for that and other important religious sites.


He said he strongly condemned any and all forms of terrorism.  In that regard, he supported the right of Israel and all States of the region to live in peace and security.  His Government would support any international initiative aimed at preventing further escalation of the conflict.  He urged those who had the power to do so to assist in achieving an immediate ceasefire and the return of the parties to the negotiating table.  In that respect, he supported an increased and urgent role played by the “Quartet” -– European Union, United States, Russian Federation and the United Nations.


The resolution of the Arab League meeting in Beruit had been welcome, he said.  A just and lasting settlement to the conflict based on Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) also had his support.  He sought a solution that would end the occupation of Arab lands and ensure the fulfilment of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to an independent State.  A solution to the Middle East problem would bring stability to that sensitive region and ensure normal relations.


SELIM TADMOURY (Lebanon) associated his delegation with the statement made by Tunisia for the Arab Group.  The current serious deterioration in the occupied Arab territories and the abhorrent escalation of violence by Israel represented a flagrant violation of international law and international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War.  Israel was carrying out acts of aggression in violation of Council resolutions.  That series of actions had led, since the beginning of the intifada, to the injury and death of more than 1,500 martyrs, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians, including children. 


In light of the escalation of acts of killing and murder of Palestinians, along with their leadership, he said, the Council must perform its duty in accordance with the United Nations Charter and intervene to prevent further escalation.  He called on it to force Israel to put an immediate end to its acts of aggression in the occupied territories.  The Council should demand that Israel immediately implement its relevant resolutions and withdraw from the territories it had occupied.  An international protection force should be dispatched to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.


He noted that Arab leaders had recently adopted the initiative put forward by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, thus demonstrating their conviction that a military solution to the conflict would not achieve peace and security in the region.  Despite the call by Arab leaders, Israel had rejected their peace initiative.  The root cause of the conflict was Israel’s continuation of its policy of occupying other peoples’ lands.  The policy of violence and destruction could only lead to counter-violence and destruction.  Peace and security would only be realized if the relevant resolutions and agreements were upheld.


ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said the worsening situation was not foreign to Argentina, which had historically close links with the peoples of that region.  As a result of the present deterioration, however, his Government issued a communiqué in support of resolution 1402 (2002), and then restated its support of that text and urged the parties to take the necessary steps to end the violence and embark on the only possible path to peace –- dialogue.  That meant bringing about the “disarmament” of the hardened minds of both peoples.


He added that there must be an unambiguous commitment by Israel to accept the political aspirations of the Palestinians for a viable and independent State.  The Palestinians must recognize Israel’s inalienable right to live in peace within secure and internationally and regionally recognized borders.  At the present junction, he added his voice to the calls upon both parties to take urgent measures leading to dialogue.  Both should comply with all relevant Council resolutions, and begin to implement resolution 1402 (2002).  He recognized the United States, the European Union, Russian Federation, and the Secretary-General for their efforts in bringing about an immediate ceasefire.


PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) endorsed resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002), which provided a way to put an end to the spiral of violence currently affecting the region.  Peoples’ rights, hopes, dignity and lives were being progressively violated, diminished and destroyed.  He called on both parties to step back from the brink, and for the Council to help them achieve that end.


To the Palestinians, he said the use of suicide bombers was intolerable.  Employing children as instruments of war to target the innocent was a moral outrage and must stop.  Chairman Arafat and those in positions of authority who failed to prevent such practices bore the gravest personal and political responsibility.


To Israel, he said Canada fully recognized Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognized borders and its right to self-defence against terrorist acts.  Continuing Israeli incursions into Palestinian towns and cities fed the spiral of violence.  The physical destruction of civilian infrastructure and the mounting toll of killed and injured was putting peace and normal life progressively further out of reach for ordinary people on both sides.  The international community must help the parties find an exit strategy from the spiral of violence and a political road map to peace.  It must do all in its power to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.  How many people must die before reason and hope prevailed? he asked. 

PAPA LOUIS FALL, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that, seized by some vindictive fury, the occupying Power had plunged into wanton systematic reprisals, buttressed by a mad policy of military security with a catastrophic toll.  That surrealistic and monolithic option of punishment had failed, despite the apparent acquiescence of hardliners in both camps, paradoxically united in their apocalyptic vision. 


He said that the occupying forces had crossed a new stage in violence and illegal oppression launched against the President of the Palestinian Authority, who was holed up and in a state of siege in Ramallah, notwithstanding the international status conferred upon him.  The international community must act immediately, and the Council had just reacted with its adoption of resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).  Given the rapid worsening of the situation, the Committee wished to state its position.


The path to peace depended on the end of the relentless Israeli occupation of 35 years and the creation of a viable independent Palestinian State, as well as recognition of the State of Israel, he said.  Resolution 1397 (2002) had broken a taboo in the vocabulary of the Council when it proclaimed the vision of a Palestinian State.  The conclusion of a just and lasting settlement based on that and other resolutions was inseparable from the question of Jerusalem as the capital of two States, Israel and Palestine, as well as a just and fair solution of the problem of the refugees and their right to return.


The Committee felt that, since the Palestinian question was so central to any lasting solution, the United Nations had a sacred duty to exercise its full responsibility on that question until an effective and comprehensive solution was found.  The parties to the conflict, particularly Tel Aviv, were strongly required to abide by the Geneva Convention of 1949.  The Committee demanded international protection for the Palestinians and the deployment of a United Nations force, or the immediate dispatch of international observers.  Donors were urged to mobilize relief for the Palestinians, who were the victims.


He said that the Committee asked the Council to break that vicious cycle of violence and explore innovative new ideas, of which resolution 1397 (2002) laid down the most significant milestone.  It was vital that a two-fold condition precede that strategy, namely, the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian territories, as well as the total restoration of freedom of movement for President Arafat.


MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said the meeting had been convened to discuss the tragedy unfolding minute by minute in the Palestinian territories as a result of the “barbaric and bloody Israeli invasion”.  The Israeli Prime Minister and his officials were trying to hide behind the pretext of combating terrorism.  The  main objective of their policies was a continued occupation of Arab lands and oppression of the aspirations of the Palestinians for an independent State.


The international community expected that the continuous meetings of the Council would be able to put an end to the Israeli arrogance and violations of international law and international humanitarian law, he said.  Despite the Council’s adoption of numerous resolutions, it had become clear that Israeli defiance knew no end.  The authority vested in the Council and the United Nations at large was continuously violated.  That pointed to the selectivity and double standards pursued when the Council was called upon to condemn Israel.  Israel was pursuing a policy of genocide, of destroying whatever came in the way of its tanks.


The Palestinians had been forced to bury their dead in a parking lot and in a mass grave, he noted.  Red Cross and Red Crescent officials had been killed,  and ambulances had been prevented from reaching their objectives.  Thousands of Palestinians had been detained and carnage had been committed against many.  Pregnant women had even found themselves under attack.  Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, had been attacked.  In the light of such actions, it became clear that Israel was pursuing a policy of State terror. 


He said the Council should send a message to Israel that it should withdraw immediately from the occupied territories, lift the siege against the Palestinian leaders and put an end to the killing of innocent civilians.  His delegation would submit a draft resolution on behalf of the Arab Group aiming at the implementation of previous Council resolutions.  The Arab Group hoped that the Council would adopt the draft, as it believed in the role of the United Nations in realizing peace and stability in the Middle East region.


JOSÉ NICOLÁS RIVAS (Colombia) said that during yesterday’s dialogue with the Israeli Ambassador and Palestinian Observer, Council members had repeated their concern in the face of the ongoing violence, which ran the risk of extending to the entire region.  He was also concerned about the security of President Arafat, whose situation was extremely risky.  It was incomprehensive and unacceptable that President Arafat should go into exile.  It should be remembered that he was an elected authority and the internationally recognized leader of the Palestinian people.  Israel should immediately end its siege against him.


He noted that the recent Council resolutions had not yielded the expected results, but those were the only exit from the present deadlock.  The parties should proceed to an immediate ceasefire.  Israel should withdraw and Palestinians should cease from the suicide bombings.  Neither action would produce the desire political results.  He supported both the Tenet plan and the recommendations in the Mitchell report.  The various special envoys in the field must have unrestricted access, including to a dialogue with President Arafat. The security concerns of Israel and the political aspiration of the Palestinian people should be taken into account simultaneously, as those were two sides of the same coin. 


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) associated his delegation with the statement made for the European Union.  He noted that an extraordinary meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Union had been held.  The Ministers were in agreement that resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) must be implemented.  He shared the grave concern of the Secretary-General of the further aggravation of the situation on the ground.  It was not a time for the Council to take one side or the other.  There was “a great deal of right and a great deal of wrong on all sides”. 


The Council must help the parties get out of the crisis, he said.  There could be no justification for further killings or hostile actions, Ireland’s Foreign Minister had said following the adoption of resolution 1402 (2002).  The Council, the Minister had added, was acting on behalf of the international community in pointing the way to a resolution -- the parties must grasp the opportunity before them. 

Member States of the United Nations were required under the United Nations Charter to implement Council resolutions, he stressed.  He condemned suicide attacks and called for an end to the attack against Ramallah and the siege against President Arafat.  He rejected the call for Mr. Arafat to go into exile and deplored all violations of human rights, including the Palestinian right to life.  He agreed with the Secretary-General that the legitimate security concerns of Israel and the political aspirations of the Palestinians must be considered at the same time.  The question of deploying a third party mechanism on the ground deserved further consideration.


JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that his position was fully contained in statement made on behalf of the European Union.  That position was entirely consonant with the strong stance taken by the Secretary-General.  But there was one point that he wished to emphasize:  the resolutions were significant developments of Security Council policy on that issue.  The deliberate use of violence, particularly the unproductive and unacceptable escalation in the degree of force used by the Israel Defence Force, must be brought to a halt, and those forces must quickly withdraw from the West Bank towns.


At the same time, he continued, the suicide bombing by Palestinians, undoubtedly acts of terror, must cease, and the Palestinian authorities must make efforts towards that goal.  The whole Security Council was clear that there could be no military solution.  Both parties had the right to security, but that could only be secured by a peaceful settlement negotiated by the authorities.  President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority were the legitimate representatives and the ones with whom Israel must resume that dialogue.  Weakening their capacity was not in the interest of peace, or of Israel.


He said that the two recent Council resolutions had to be implemented, as they were routes out of the desperate position in which the two sides had gotten themselves.  The whole United Nations system should be directed to implementation.  The European Union and the United Kingdom would play their parts. 


KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said he had been watching and listening to the speeches all day long.  It was clear that a very strong message had come through  -- that the international community was strongly and deeply concerned about the situation in the region, and the Council should not underestimate the gravity of the crisis.  Since the adoption of resolution 1402 (2002), the situation on the ground had not improved.  The parties had not moved anywhere near a meaningful ceasefire.  Acts of violence, terror, provocation and incitement continued, even as peace efforts were being continued.


The consequences of being locked into the logic of war was that the region might plunge into war, he said.  The international community, including the Council, had been working for months to address the situation.  Resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) had been lifelines to help the parties out of the situation, both in the long and short term.  At the end of the day, it was up to the parties to decide whether they would take the lifelines.  That could only be done on the basis of a negotiated political settlement.


The Council presidency had issued two press statements demanding implementation of the two texts, he noted.  Meetings had been held by the Council President and the entire Council with the parties.  Remarkably frank and candid discussions had been held.  The members had stressed that the actions required by operative paragraph 1 of resolution 1402 were not sequential and must be carried out by the parties.  He hoped that the steps taken would make it clear that the Council required compliance with its resolutions.  Leadership was required from both sides, he stressed.


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said he fully associated himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union.  Like all other Council members, he was concerned at the worsening situation.  He called upon both parties to exercise restraint, not only through acts, but also through language.  Resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) were a clear and unequivocal road map towards resolving the current crisis.  Indeed, they provided a solid basis for action by everyone to help resolve the crisis, in particular, the United States and European Union special envoys, and others.


He said he welcomed the decision just taken by the European Union to dispatch to the region a number of ministers and the Union’s High Representative for security policy.  Bulgaria called upon Israel to implement the recent resolutions and put an end to the isolation of President Arafat and the danger to his physical integrity.  He was concerned about reports about difficulties to contact him, since he remained the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people.


The terrorist attacks were a major source of the current tension, he said.  Those had continued since the adoption of the two resolutions, and his country condemned them unequivocally.  Indeed, those attacks were inexcusable, both morally and politically.  Undeniably, they had introduced into the crisis an irrational and inhuman element, to an extent that was unprecedented in that ghastly conflict.  Seldom discussed was the fact that those suicide bombings were very often encouraged by political leaders.  That culture of glorifying sacrifice “had to go”.  Moreover, those acts did not help the Palestinian cause. 


JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) said that when many had left New York for Monterrey, Mexico, and the Conference on Financing for Development, there had been cause for guarded optimism.  Two weeks later, the international community was faced with a terrible crisis.  As Secretary of State Colin Powell had said, both sides were losing right now, and it was time to find a way forward.  His Government was committed to helping find a way forward.  It had been working for peace at the highest levels in Washington, through General Zinni, its embassies in the region and, where appropriate, through the Security Council. 


There was no military solution to the impasse, he stressed.  The United States had been supportive of a constructive Council role on the crisis.  It had introduced resolution 1397 (2002), he noted, and had voted to support resolution 1402 (2002).  It was working around the clock with both sides to secure the implementation of the latter text in its entirety.  Through the texts, the Council had laid out a road map.  He encouraged the parties to take the opportunity presented to them.


OLE PETTER KOLBY (Norway) said he remained deeply alarmed at the escalating cycle of violence.  The terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and the Israeli military campaign represented a dramatic worsening of the situation.  Unless the core problems of occupation, violence, terrorism and the economic plight of the Palestinians were addressed, the conflict would escalate further.  Those two sides of the same coin -- security and peace -- must be addressed in parallel, in the spirit of Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).


He said his country had repeatedly condemned Palestinian terrorist attacks.  Terrorism was not acceptable as a tool to reach political goals.  He called on the Palestinian people to renounce terrorism and dissociate themselves from the practices of extremist groups.  At the same time, the ongoing Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian Authority was destroying the Palestinian police and its ability to fight terrorism.  He feared that the present military operations would only breed further hatred and continued terrorism.


Israel’s military campaign and the use of lethal force, especially in civilian populated areas, was not going to achieve its aim, he said.  Such use of force would bring neither peace nor security, but fuel hatred and despair.  The campaign must be brought to an end immediately.  The humanitarian situation must also be addressed.  He called on Israel to immediately lift restrictions on movements of humanitarian personnel and medical vehicles.  The Council had indicated the way forward through its resolutions; it must stand united in its demand that those measures were implemented.


JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said France supported the statement made for the European Union.  Since the adoption of resolution 1402 (2002), violence had escalated even further.  The action taken by the Israelis in occupying Ramallah and other territories was leading to an impasse, which was unacceptable.  He called for immediate implementation of all the provisions of resolution 1402.  A true ceasefire must be affirmed without delay. 


A political perspective was necessary to move from the cycle of violence, he said.  Political aspects must be addressed with security issues; they could not be separated.  Nothing could justify the murder of innocent civilians.  The suicide bombings of recent days provoked a sense of horror.  The Palestinian Authority must combat terrorism, but it could not act if it was weakened.  The Israeli Government must, therefore, lift the siege on Ramallah and ensure the safety of Chairman Arafat, whose exile would be a mistake.


The long-term safety of the Israeli people could not be based on the destruction of the Palestinian Authority, he stressed.  The Council should be aware of the humanitarian consequences of the Israeli actions.  France had for a long time been in favour of deploying international observers, having proposed the idea in the Council 18 months ago.  The presence of monitors would serve the interests of both parties.  It could complement General Zinni’s proposals and aid with the implementation of the Mitchell recommendations and the Tenet plan.  Perhaps, serious consideration should be given to deploying a force to accompany the implementation of the Council’s resolution.  He expressed his concern about the situation on the border with Lebanon and called for an end to any violation of the “blue line”.


MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that, given the exacerbation of the conflict, the succession of Council meetings had reflected the expectations and hopes it held for quickly and decisively contributing to halting the violence in the region and promoting the resumption of peace negotiations.  The events of recent weeks had elicited powerful feelings.  His prayers were with the families and communities that were suffering.


On 29 and 30 March, the Council had held an intense debate, which tackled head on the delicate and complex situation, which was now deadlocked.  Thanks to the effectiveness and tact of its presidency, the Council managed to adopt resolution 1402 (2002), which was the best road map towards a final political solution.  In that text, the Council “put its finger” on the problem by saying that it was seriously concerned about the worsening situation, due both to the recent suicide bombings in Israel and the military offensive conducted against the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority.


That was the crux of the matter and the reason the Council called for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal from cities under siege, and the cessation of violence and terror, he said.  That was a crucial resolution, and only compliance with it could halt the violence and make it possible to safeguard the process of peace, as launched by resolution 1397 (2002), which recognized the need for the coexistence of the two parties, as States living side by side.  Was it not high time for the United Nations, through its Security Council, to go even further and really engage directly in the peace process in the Middle East? he asked.


WANG YINGFAN (China) said since the adoption of resolution 1402 (2002), the conflict had continued to escalate.  Instead of being improved, the situation had further deteriorated, especially the economic, social and humanitarian position of the Palestinians.  Resolving the Middle East questions could only be achieved through the implementation of the relevant Council resolutions, and the principle of land for peace.  Israel’s continued siege of Mr. Arafat and the threat to force him into exile were dangerous.


He condemned Israel’s invasion of Palestine and called upon it to immediately implement resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002).  He also condemned the violent activities in Israel targeted at civilians.  He called for an end to countering violence with violence.  In the current situation, the Council should play a more active and effective role to avoid the evolution of the situation into an irreparable state.  He hoped the two sides would take practical steps to stop all violent activities.


RAKESH BHUCKORY (Mauritius) reiterated his country’s condemnation of all acts of terror and suicide bombings, especially against innocent civilians.  At the same time, the Israeli actions in the West Bank were not justified.  In fact, subjecting Chairman Arafat to the worst form of humiliation and destroying the Palestinian infrastructure built over years, forcing them to bury their dead inhumanely, could only further radicalize and infuriate even the moderate Arab world.  The protests and demonstrations in the streets of various capitals were living proof of the grief and anger of the Arab world.


He said there would undoubtedly be a backlash against Israel.  The entire series of actions would seriously compromise the vision of the Council of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side within secure and recognized borders.  He feared, however, that the recent hostilities across the "blue line" were just a beginning.  An Arab world in turmoil would have dire consequences for international peace and security, with eventual disastrous effects on the global economy. 

Chairman Arafat was the only interlocutor with whom Israel could negotiate peace, he emphasized.  In that difficult situation, he must be strengthened and not marginalized.  It was also absolutely critical for both Palestine and Israel to fully implement the recent Council resolutions on the situation.  Before adoption of 1402 (2002), the Council President clearly stressed the non-sequential nature of the steps outlined in operative paragraph 1.  It would be intellectually dishonest to claim that a ceasefire and an end of suicide attacks should precede any pullout from the Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.  There was clearly no conditionality for an Israeli pullout from Ramallah and other Palestinian cities. 


He said he was ready to support any draft resolution that reaffirmed the Council’s demand for the immediate implementation of all provisions contained in resolution 1402 (2002).  It was also time for the Council to engage in a meaningful discussion about the dispatch of an international observer force that could restore a climate of trust between the two parties.  Influential world leaders should press for an immediate Israeli withdrawal. 


ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) repeated his delegation’s support for a solution to the conflict based on the relevant Council resolutions.  Mexico supported the vision of a region where the two parties lived side by side as independent States with secure borders.  He supported the demand for the withdrawal of Israeli forces and for the immediate cessation of acts of terrorism.


All Council resolutions were compulsory -- that was not subject to discussion, he said.  Israel considered that military incursions into Palestinian cities fell within its right to legitimate defence.  However, Mexico felt that Israel was not acting in accordance with the legitimate right to self-defence as set out in the United Nations Charter.  The military actions would not help prevent terrorism.  On the contrary, such action led to acts of reprisal.  His delegation found no legal, moral or political justification for the actions undertaken by Israel in the Palestinian territories. 


While recognizing Israel's right to security, he called on the Israeli authorities to cease their acts of aggression against the Palestinian civilian population and to place its trust in the Council.  The suicide bombings carried out against the Israelis were totally contrary to international law, he stressed.  The Palestinian Authority should demand that such acts cease.  It could not be ambiguous or ambivalent in that regard.  The Palestinian Authority must also respect the provision of international humanitarian law. 


The Council should reinforce the issues being tackled by the special envoys to the region, in particular General Zinni, the Secretary-General, and the representatives of the European Union, he said.  It should start to explore the role that it would have to play when the ceasefire became a reality.  In that regard, the Council might explore dispatching a monitoring force to the region, or establishing “peace zones”.


FRANÇOIS L. FALL (Guinea) said that since the adoption of resolution 1402 (2002), he noted and deplored the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel.  Despite calls for the rapid implementation of the text, the situation continued to deteriorate dangerously.  The military offensive had been characterized by the occupation of Palestinian cities, the

destruction of infrastructure, summary executions and arbitrary arrests, and surrounding President Arafat. 


He said that there were also numerous victims in the Israeli population.  It was encouraging to hear earlier today the Palestinian Observer’s recognition of the harm done to the Palestinian cause by the suicide bombings.  Yesterday, the Council had held two consecutive private sessions with the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine.  Those had been useful and enlightening, and both parties had indicated their willingness to implement recent resolutions.


On the question of withdrawal, however, Israel sought the prior cessation of the suicide bombings, he said.  The Palestinian side insisted on the simultaneous implementation of the political and security aspects of the resolution, as well as the presence of an international force.  The question of security and a political solution to the conflict were inseparable.  He, therefore, urged President Arafat and Prime Minister Sharon to demonstrate greater responsibility in seeking a negotiated solution. 


In that connection, he said that the Israeli authorities should lift the siege so that the President could recover his ability to lead.  The offer made for an exile had been unacceptable.  President Arafat was not an obstacle to peace, but an essential element in the peace process.  The war against peace must cease.  He called for the immediate implementation of all provisions of resolution 1402 (2002), in order to create the conditions for a final settlement of the crisis. 


SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his delegation strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.  Political goals could not be achieved through terrorism.  Israel’s response to the attacks should be appropriate.  He mourned the victims on both sides and called for an immediate halt to the violence.  The madness must be ended before it was too late. 


The conflict was the subject of regular contacts on the parts of the Russian Federation and the United States, as co-sponsors of the peace process, he said.  The parties must return to implementing the agreements achieved.  Rooting out terror and the final settlement, including the creation of a Palestinian State, was in the interest of both sides.  That could only be achieved though negotiation.  His Government was, therefore, seeking the speedy implementation of resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002), and the other relevant agreements. 


He called upon the parties to take steps to implement resolution 1402 (2002).  His country joined the European Union in asserting that the campaign against terrorism should not be linked with the destruction of the Palestinian political infrastructure.  He supported the constructive role of the Council in helping find a resolution to the conflict.


The meeting suspended at 8:15 p.m.


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